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Chap. Copyright No. 












Two Copies Received 

MAR. 13 1901 


CLASS Ct-XXc. N». 










Digitized by the Internet Arciiive 
in 2011 with funding from 
The Library of Congress 


I HAVE written what this book contains 
from memory, not having kept a diary, and 
in most cases I have given the real names of 
ships and individuals. 

Conscious of my inability to undertake 
the preparation of a book, and fearing that I 
had nothing adequate to offer the public, I 
hesitated for a long time to attempt it, but 
the encouragement of my friend the Rev. 
Frederick B. Allen has led me to set down 
some of my experiences at sea. The book is 
in so large a measure the outcome of his 
friendly interest that the heartiest acknow- 
ledgments are due him. I am glad of the 
opportunity to make them, and also to thank 
my friend Lieutenant-Colonel Allan C. Kel- 
ton, U. S. M. C, for many kindnesses shown 
me during our cruise on the U. S. S. Alli- 
ance and since. 


Sailors' Haven, Mission for Seamen, 
Charlestown, Mass. 



I. Outward Bound ...... 1 

n. My First Gale ...,,. 7 

III. On a Lee Shore ...... 19 

IV. A Stowaway ...... 36 

V. An Easy Packet 64 

VI. A Starving " Lime- Juicer " ... 78 

VII. Fishing for Sharks 97 

VIII. Ordinary Seaman 117 

IX. Burying the "Dead Horse" . . . 136 
X. A "Hot" Ship ...... 159 

XI. 'Round the Cape 180 

XIL « Hard Up AND Hard Down " . . .201 

XIII. Man-oe- War's Man 222 

XIV. A Three Years' Cruise . . . .243 
XV. In the "Brig" 262 

XVI. Homeward Bound 285 




We smashed a part of our bulwarks . . 26 
Together we passed the weather earing . 162 
She was a wreck, unfit for sea .... 270 

Drawn by Charles Copeland 




It may seem ludicrous when I say I am 
one of twenty-nine children, and the twenty- 
seventh child of my father. He was married 
three times. His first wife bore him eleven 
children ; his second wife, who was a first 
cousin to his first wife, bore him ten ; and 
my mother, his third wife, who was a sister 
to his second wife, bore him eight. We 
were not only half brothers and sisters, but 
cousins all the way along. 

Of late years I have been trying to find 
out the birthplace of my forefathers, and 
have so far learned that my grandparents on 
my father's side were from Ireland, and on 
my mother's side they were from Scotland. 
How they came to Barbados, or what busi- 
ness brought them there, I know not. I 
know that my father was a highly respected 


man on this island in the Caribbean Sea. He 
was a commissioner of public roads and a 
government employee for many years. 

As far back as I can remember, I was the 
uncle of grown-up young men and women, the 
children of my father's first wife's children. 
The family ramifications are many through 
the marriages of my father's children, his 
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His 
brother's children and the relations on my 
mother's side make it possible for me to find 
some blood relationship in almost every part 
of the globe. 

Payne's Bay House, the name of our old 
home, was on the western slope of the is- 
land adjoining the sea. From our back win- 
dows we could see the ships sail by. This, 
with living so close to the wash of the waves, 
created a desire in all but one of my brothers 
to follow the sea for a living. 

In those days it was a common sight to 
see there fully one hundred ships, among 
them a dozen or more East Indiamen, riding 
at anchor. Some were loading sugar, others 
awaiting orders from home ; for Carhsle Bay, 
forming the harbor of Bridgetown, the capi- 
tal city of Barbados, was, before steam took 


full control of the sea, the anchorage for 
sailing ships bound to Europe or the United 
States, from ports the other side of the Cape 
of Good Hope and Cape Horn. 

I can now recall the delight that entered 
my whole being when, as a boy, I listened 
to the stories told by my sailor brothers, as 
they by chance called at Barbados in their 
ships, — of foreign lands, of storms and gales, 
of adventure and shipwreck. A sailor's life 
appealed to me as the only life worth living ; 
and with that longing to be a sailor, to have 
as my own some of my brothers' experiences, 
I told my mother that I wanted to go to sea. 

I can now see the expression of disappoint- 
ment on her dear face. I was her last son ; 
and her hopes were built on having me grow 
up and live in Barbados. She looked forward 
to my being a manager of some sugar plan- 
tation, or preparing for some professional 
calling. Naturally she tried to persuade me 
to remain at school, and went so far as to 
promise her consent for me to go to sea when 
I was sixteen. Being a stout, robust lad, I 
felt as though I was man enough to start out 
in a life at sea, so I begged and coaxed, and 
at last threatened to run away. 


I gained the victory. One afternoon a 
carriage drove up to our home, in which 
was Caj)tain Dunscombe, of the schooner Me- 
teor, a friend of my parents. He had that 
day arrived from Bermuda, and was visiting 
us. That evening I begged my mother to 
let me go back with him to his ship. At last 
she yielded. In Bermuda there was a friend 
of my mother's, an old retired sea captain, 
George Hill. He had proved himself a 
friend to my brothers ; so rather than have 
me leave her later on to go with strangers, 
she consented to my saiHng on the Meteor 
to Bermuda, where she hoped, through the 
influence of Captain Hill, I might be induced 
to continue my schoohng. 

Captain Dunscombe made several visits to 
us during his stay in port, and during that 
time, I afterward learned, my mother asked 
him. to make the voyage as disagreeable for 
me as he possibly could without doing me 
any bodily harm. She thought that by the 
time I reached Bermuda, I would have had 
enough of a sailor's life. 

A negro carpenter was called in to make 
me a sailor's clothes chest. I would not have 
a common trunk. I wanted one similar to 


those I had seen on ships I had visited. It 
must have a till, or shelf, in it for needles 
and thread. No other would satisfy me. 
For two days I watched that negro plane the 
boards. I saw that every nail was driven in 
securely, and the hinges and lock put on. 
Then this good old negro lifted it on his 
head, saying to me, " Come along, Massa 
Harry, de ches' am finished. We '11 take it 
to Massa John," meaning my father. 

It was a great day for me. As I walked 
by his side, I boastfully told my playfellows, 
both black and white, as they looked at my 
chest on the negro's head, that it was mine, 
and that I was going to be a sailor. New 
clothes were made for me. Knee breeches 
were discarded. My trunk was packed, 
placed on a cart, and conveyed to town, to 
be sent on board the Meteor. 

The day of my departure at last arrived. 
It was in March, 1880. I was not thirteen 
years old. I must confess that to-day, when 
I think of my mother and my early associa- 
tions at home, the tears will gather in my 
eyes. When the carriage drove up to the 
door and the time came to say good-by, my 
mother's grief was so great that she was 


thrown into hysterics. I cried and wept bit- 
terly, not that I was leaving" her, but because 
she was crying. For as a child I had always 
cried if she manifested any signs of grief. 
Several minutes passed before she could re- 
gain her self-control ; and throwing her arms 
around me, bathing my face with her tears, 
we parted, — she to return to her daily rou- 
tine of life, waiting to hear from the absent 
one ; I, followed by a train of colored men, 
women, and children, some falling on my 
neck and kissing me, the rest shaking my 
hands, and shouting, " God bless you, Massa 
Harry," went on my way to begin my duties 
as boy on board the schooner Meteor, saihng 
to Bermuda. 



As I drew near the wharf on the morning 
of my departure, I was surrounded by col- 
ored boatmen, some shouting, " Here 's de 
Great Admiral," " Take my boat, sah, she is 
de Young America," " Dis way, sah, for de 
Undaunted," for the Barbadian boatmen, in 
doing their best to make a living, keep the 
water front in a state of constant uproar. It 
is their habit to tie their boats at the gov- 
ernment landing ; and as soon as a white man 
makes his appearance on the wharf, they 
gather round him like bees around a hive, 
shouting at the top of their voices, "Want a 
boat, sah?" "Here 's de Nancy Lee," "Der 's 
de Morning Star," each man having some such 
name for his boat. They will pull at his coat 
and tire and provoke him with their vocif- 
erous yells. If he is not strong and deter- 
mined in pushing them away, they will carry 
him bodily to a boat. I was saved from such 


a fate, for at this time Captain Dunscombe 
made his appearance, and taking me under 
his care, he ordered his boatmen to haul up 
to the landing-steps. We shoved off, and 
were rowed by two black Barbadians to the 

As the captain gained the deck, he gave 
word to the mate to man the windlass and 
heave short. While the sailors were heaving 
on the windlass brakes, getting in the slack 
chain, I was rummaging every part of the 
deck. On both sides of our vessel were a lot 
of small boats, some of them mere " dugouts," 
filled with naked negro boys. They were 
manifesting their accomplishments in diving. 
Occasionally the sailors would toss a copper 
over the side. As soon as it reached the 
water, the boys would jump from their boats 
and find the copper. At times the money 
would be thrown some distance from the ship, 
where it would seem almost impossible for it 
to be found. Yet the naked boys would swim 
to the spot where the money had sunk, and, 
diving, — remaining under water, going, yes, 
four and five fathoms down, — would bring 
the copper to the surface. With a broad 
grin showing their snow-white teeth, they 


would yell, " Heabe anodder, " "I'll dibe, 

Knowing tbe captain was below, I ventured 
into his cabin. It was a small space, wbere, 
unprotected from the sight of any one, were 
two bunks, one over the other, against the 
sides of the ship. In the forward bulkhead 
was a door leading into a very small room, 
which was the captain's. Fastened to the 
after bulkhead of the cabin was a table large 
enough to seat two persons. I was told by 
the captain that there was no bunk for me. 
The two bunks in the cabin were used by the 
mate and steward, and as there was only one 
bunk in his room, I would have to sleep in 
the sail locker on a spare mainsail which was 
stowed there. It made no difference to me. 
I was bent on being a sailor, and was willing 
to put up with anything. 

The odor and steam emanating from the 
cargo of molasses began to take effect on my 
head. Feeling weak and dizzy, I made for 
the companionway and hastened none too 
quickly on deck. The mate came aft and 
shouted to the captain, " She 's hove short, 
sir," to which he responded as he came on 
deck, " Set the mainsail and foresail." The 


sails set, a few more heaves on the windlass 
brakes, and the Meteor was sailing past the 
vessels at anchor in the bay. 

It being about an hour before sunset, I 
was afforded daylight enough to watch every 
detail of work necessary in getting a vessel 
under way. I watched with keen interest the 
setting of the sails, and the catting and fish- 
ing of the anchor. It was about six o'clock 
when supper was served. I wanted no sup- 
per, and I knew I should be sick if I went 
below in that stuffy hole ; so I remained 
on deck. The captain and mate were the 
only white men on board ; the steward, who 
performed the duties of both cook and 
steward, and the four sailors " f orrard " were 
black Bermudians. No one seemed interested 
in me. 

While the daylight lasted I continued my 
inspection of the deck. Close abaft the main 
hatch was a box about five feet square, lashed 
securely to four ringbolts in the deck. This 
was the galley, with sliding doors on both 
sides of it. In it were a stove and a box for 
coal. The box when covered was used as a 
seat for the cook while preparing the meals. 

Forward, right abaft the windlass, was a 


small companionway leading down to the 
forecastle. I descended as far as the bottom, 
step. What a sight ! A three-cornered flat- 
iron-shaped hole with four bunks in it, an 
oil lamp giving more smoke than Hght. 
Three black men, made blacker by the dark- 
ness of the place, were seated on a bench 
eating something from a pan which was at 
their feet on the floor. There I encountered 
that same vfle odor of bflge water and steam 
from the molasses. 

Quickly getting on deck, I went aft, and, 
steadying myself on the top of the cabin, 
watched the fading shores of my native land. 
Fully two hours I sat there and thought of 
my loving mother, my home, and the asso- 
ciations I had left ; then sauntered below to 
the sail locker, where I cuddled up and feU 
fast asleep. 

It must have been about four o'clock the 
next morning when I awoke. I cannot find 
words to describe my feelings. There was a 
strong northeast trade wind blowing, which 
created a fair-sized swell. The schooner 
bobbed up and down. So did I. How wretch- 
edly uncomfortable I felt ! All the misery of 
seasickness was upon me. You who have 


experienced seasickness wiU agree with me 
when I say, at such a time there is but little 
choice between life and death. I managed 
to get on deck. I heaved as though my heart 
would leave me ; then, stretching myself on 
the deck by the lee side of the wheel, longed 
to be home again. Could I have put my feet 
on shore at that time, it would have taken 
more than a Spanish windlass to get me to 
sea again. 

When a person is seasick, his one desire is 
to lie down and go to sleep. This may do 
well enough for a short passage on a passen- 
ger steamer, but to be cured of seasickness, 
one must keep moving about in misery until 
he masters it. Cold, weak, dizzy, and miser- 
able, I remained in that semi-conscious state 
until seven bells (half past seven), at which 
time the captain came on deck. Seeing me 
coiled down on the wet deck, he took hold 
of my coat collar and, lifting me on my feet, 
exclaimed in a gruff, sarcastic voice, " Yaw 
want to be a sailor, do ya ? " "0 captain, 
I am going to die!" "How yaw muff!" 
which is a Bermudian way of saying, " Close 
your mouth." 

I do not wish to tire my readers by relat- 


ing tlie many ways this well-meaning friend 
kept me moving about. He tried to teach 
me to steer by the compass, and did every- 
thing possible to keep me on my feet. 

Soon after eight bells, at noon, a trade 
wind squall struck our little vessel. There was 
a heavy gust of wind and a downpour of rain 
for about twenty minutes. The gaff topsail 
was hauled down and clewed up. The cap- 
tain shouted to me, " Git up thar and put a 
turn round that sail." It was a foreign lan- 
guage to me. I was making ready to coil 
myself on deck again. Lifting me clear of 
the rail, he stood me in the rigging, shouting, 
" Git, git, git ! I '11 make a sailor of ye." 
I felt sure I should fall. As I write, the hor- 
ror of that moment is present with me. Hold- 
ing tightly to the shrouds, step after step 
over those tarry ratlines, I at last reached the 
main crosstrees. Yet when holding on to 
the topmast rigging, my feet firmly planted 
on the outriggers, the gaff topsail slapping 
and banging around my head, I actually 
enjoyed the sight beneath and around me. 

Below me the schooner, keeled well over 
by the force of the squall, was cutting her 
way through the Caribbean Sea. It was the 


first time I had been out of sight of land. 
The vast expanse of water and the grandeur 
of the immense blue circle, joined to the 
drooping blue canopy above, made our small 
craft seem an insignificant object. The squall 
was over, the gaff topsail set again, and in the 
course of an hour I reached the deck wet 
through to the skin. Going below to the 
cabin, I devoured the remnants of the din- 
ner-table. My seasickness was leaving me ; 
I retained the food. I became accustomed 
to the pitching of the ship, and by night I 
was, with the exception of a bad headache, 
a seasoned sailor. 

This good friend of my mother's, in trying 
to carry out her wishes and make me sick 
of the sea, made me master it. Had he al- 
lowed me to sleep and lie around the decks, I 
would have continued in that miserable state, 
and most likely would have given up all de- 
sire of being a sailor. There have been times 
during the first day at sea, after a long stay 
in port and days of dissipation on shore, that 
I have felt a nauseating sensation, but I have 
always been able to get about and do my 

Of all the men that I have been shipmates 


■with during my six years in the merchant 
marine service, there is only one man whose 
name I can remember. I remember them 
only by their given names, or the nicknames 
by which they were called. Also of my ship- 
mates for six years in the United States Navy, 
I can call to mind but a very few names. 
The names of the officers are fresh in my 
mind, as I was compelled to address them by 
their surnames, affixing the '* Mister." So 
in writing of my shipmates, I can only name 
them as I did in days gone by, — the com- 
mon, familiar Jack, Bill, and Tom. 

My duties on board the Meteor were very 
easy. No longer seasick, I assisted the cook 
in washing the dishes, keeping the cabin 
clean, and also took an occasional spell at the 
wheel, to be perfect in my steering, — " All 
day on and all night in." At the close of 
the fourteenth day out we were close to Ber- 
muda. It began to darken in the northwest, 
and at eight bells that evening our schooner 
was hove to under a close-reefed mainsail 
and fore staysail. About ten o'clock the 
man on the lookout shouted, " Light, ! " 
Sure enough, under our lee quarter was the 
revolving light of Gibbs Hill lighthouse. 


This was my first gale. I do not know much 
about the hardships of the crew that night. 
Snugly coiled down in my cubby-hole, I 
could hear the voices of the men as they 
would wear ship, trying to keep off that dan- 
gerous coast of rocks and shoals. At two 
o'clock, in the middle watch, I heard the 
order given to wear ship. I could feel her 
rise to an even keel and, as though she had 
received some awful blow, stagger and trem- 
ble Hke a drunken man. In coming round, 
she had pooped a sea. 

I thought we were sinking. The water 
came pouring down through the small open- 
ing in the sail locker. I made a rush for the 
deck, to find a stillness of death, which lasted 
but a moment. A small house over the rud- 
der head, which was used as a boatswain's 
locker, was torn from its lashings. Jammed 
in the companionway of the cabin, and try- 
ing to climb over it to get out of the flooded 
cabin, was the old colored cook. 

It took but a few moments for the captain, 
who was a splendid sailor, to regain control 
of his ship. He got hold of me and pushed 
me down into the cabin, daring me to move 
from there. I climbed into the mate's bunk, 


clear of tlie wash, of water, and listened to the 
tramping of the men overhead getting the 
ship secured again. I had all faith in the cap- 
tain, and a strong feeling that with him on 
deck, all would be well with us. It must 
have been about an hour when the cook re- 
turned from the deck, where he had been 
lending a hand, to begin the work of drying 
the cabin. I gained courage when he made 
his appearance. With buckets, rags, and 
mops we bailed out what water there was 
which had not found its way to the cargo. 

At daylight the coast of Bermuda was 
clear to our view. A whaleboat, manned by 
six sturdy colored men, rowed out to us, and 
rounding under our lee quarter, they put a 
pilot on board. It is necessary for one to be 
nearing a dangerous coast on a lee shore to 
appreciate the sense of relief that comes over 
the ship when the pilot comes on board. At 
that time there is an ineffable satisfaction in 
one's security. 

The pilot and his boat's crew were ac- 
quainted with our crew. They called one an- 
other by name and inquired of their friends 
on shore. That evening, shortly after sunset, 
we tied up alongside the wharf in the smooth 


waters of Hamilton harbor. Every man on 
board, as soon as he could get ready, left the 
ship. Not knowing my way to Captain Hill's 
house, I made for the pantry. There I got 
hold of some hard biscuits, which I smothered 
with butter and sugar, and retired to my bed 
in the sail locker, to eat my fill and pass the 
night on a water-soaked mainsail. 



In Barbados it is considered degrading for 
a white man to do manual labor. Occasion- 
ally you will find a white man working at 
a trade, or serving on the police force, or 
making a living by catching flying fish, but 
they are socially ostracized. They must as- 
sociate with the negroes, who are expected to 
do all the laborious work on the island. A 
white man's work is to manage a sugar plan- 
tation, to be a clerk in an of&ce or store, or 
to follow the profession of a minister, doctor, 
or lawyer. So also with the women, with the 
exception of a few who serve behind the 
counters of the largest clothing stores. They 
live lives of idleness, with negro servants at 
every beck and caU. 

As a boy I was impressed with the idea 
that sailors were the only white men who 
were allowed to labor aboard their ships, 
and were still thought respectable. Perhaps 


my brothers being sailors created the im- 
pression. Howbeit, the next morning after 
landing in Bermuda, when I started with a 
letter in my pocket from my mother to find 
Captain Hill's house, the strangest thing to 
me was to see the familiarity that existed be- 
tween the white and black Bermudians. Col- 
ored men meeting white men on the street 
would address them by their first names, 
without prefixing the Barbados title of " Mas- 
sah." Along the road I could look over the 
stone walls, and there see the whites and 
blacks working side by side in the onion and 
potato fields. To cap it all, after finding 
Captain Hill and receiving from him the wel- 
come of his big, fond heart, I was introduced 
to the negro boys in that part of Port Royal 
Parish as only Harry King. I soon became 
acquainted with them, and for five weeks I 
worked cheerfully with them, weeding onions 
in Captain Hill's gardens. 

One morning, when not yet six weeks in 
Bermuda, I went with Captain Hill to the 
town of Hamilton. Before we started for 
home, I had visited the Bermudian brigan- 
tine Excelsior, and had made arrange- 
ments with Captain Mayor, her master, to 


sail with him to New York as cabin boy. 
When I told Captain Hill of my intended 
trip, I could see that it distressed this good 
old friend to have me leave him, but his 
knowing the captain of the Excelsior 
helped to make him yield, though he did so 

The following day I was on the sea again, 
bound to New York city. There is not much 
to relate in a passage of this kind. It was 
spring and the weather was fine, with the 
exception of a stiff blow in the Gulf Stream 
for twenty-four hours. We reached New 
York on the seventh day out from Bermuda, 
when a towboat brought us safely to Pier 
24, North River. Then it fully dawned upon 
me what activity meant in this world, and 
that it was honorable for a white man to work 
for his living. 

We remained eight days in New York, and 
in that short time I was afforded the oppor- 
tunity of visiting a sister in Brooklyn, and 
of seeing a few of the sights of a large city. 
It was the first time I had seen a steam loco- 
motive. So that I could have the satisfac- 
tion of saying I had ridden on the railroad, 
I walked to the Battery, and, ascending to 


the platform station of the Elevated Road, I 
traveled as far as my five cents would carry 
me. I suppose I must have been to Harlem. 
Anyhow, the conductor told me this was the 
end of the line ; and passing out of the sta- 
tion, I turned, and paying another five cents, 
rode back to the Battery. 

We sailed away for Bermuda, and in two 
months' time we made two more such voy- 
ages to New York with onions and potatoes, 
on each return trip taking back to Bermuda 
a cargo of breadstuff. At the end of the 
third voyage from New York the Excel- 
sior was hauled into the middle of Hamil- 
ton harbor, and there moored till the follow- 
ing year. I remained at Captain Hill's house 
for eight months, not only welcomed by him 
and his good wife, but treated as though I 
were their own son. I had no desire to go 
to school, so I passed the time working in 
the field, running errands, and trying to make 
myself of some service to my dear, kind 

Bermuda is rightly termed " The Refuge." 
Many vessels, leaking or dismasted or in dis- 
tress of some kind, have found a refuge in 
the harbors of this cluster of numerous small 


islands in mid- Atlantic. In the harbor of 
Hamilton as well as St. George, there werie 
old hulks along the shore, washed by every 
tide and wave. These hulks were once fine 
sailing ships, but in old age, no longer able to 
battle with storm and gale, they are shoved 
heartlessly aside. There is no picture more 
sad to me than to see what was once a thing 
of life, mastering the storms and gales of 
ocean and sea, reduced to a skeleton, forsaken 
by friends, its body left in some out-of-the- 
way place, to be mercilessly and slowly torn 
to pieces by the waves on a foreign shore. 

On my way to Hamilton one morning in 
the following March, I was surprised to see 
that the Excelsior had been moved from 
her mooring in the stream and was lying 
alongside of the wharf. Knowing it was 
too early for the onion season, I hastened 
on board. Finding Captain Mayor there, I 
inquired the reason of this change. He 
told me that his brig had been chartered to 
take grain from a Russian ship at anchor in 
a place called Murray's Anchorage, on the 
coast of Bermuda. 

This Russian ship, bound from New York 
to some port in France with grain, had sprung 


a leak, and had put in for repairs. Being so 
large a ship, the greater part of her cargo 
must be hghtened before she could cross the 
harbor bar of St. George. 

He wanted a cook and four sailors. I had 
been his cabin boy for three trips to New 
York, and with a feeling of confidence in my 
knowledge of cooking, I asked him to take 
me as cook. I can see the broad grin on his 
face and hear his merry laugh as he chok- 
ingly said, " You be blowed. You could n't 
keep water from burning." After coaxingly 
remonstrating with him, he half jokingly 
said, " Yes, I '11 take you to help the cook." 
I ventured to say, " What 's my pay, cap- 
tain ? " " Pay, is it ? We 'U talk that over 
when I see what you can do." 

Of all the open roadsteads in which I have 
dropped anchor during my twelve years at 
sea, I have never found any to equal Mur- 
ray's Anchorage for exposure and danger. 
There is a verse known to sailors, — 

" If Bermuda let you pass, 
Then look out for Cape Hatteras." 

On a clear, calm morning in the month of 
March, a towboat came alongside, took the 


end of our hawser, and that afternoon we 
were made fast alongside the Russian monster. 
All the gear had been made ready for hoist- 
ing the grain from one ship to the other, and 
the work of unloading and loading began. 
At sunset, when work was stopped for the 
day, we had taken four hundred bags of grain 

It was a calm, peaceful evening. The crews 
of both ships had turned into their bunks for 
the night save one man on each ship, who was 
keeping the anchor watch. It was close to 
midnight when I felt our brig moving, and 
her tossing and pitching awakened me. I 
heard the deafening noise and uproar of tim- 
bers crashing. Hastily getting on deck, I 
found our ship grinding herself against the 
side of the Russian, and every man doing his 
best to save both vessels from drifting upon 
the rocks. A heavy gale had sprung up, a 
hateful "nor wester" from Hatteras. With 
it had come a sea from the open Atlantic 
which seemed to take dehght in crushing the 
ships together. 

The Russian let go his second anchor, 
paid out all his chain, then cast our hues 
adrift. We quickly began to drop astern, 


but in so doing we smashed a part of our 
bui-warks and carried with us, as we scraj)ed 
and thumped along his side, the bumkin for 
his port main brace, and the boat hanging at 
his after davits. It was well the yards of 
both vessels were braced in opposite direc- 
tions. Had they been otherwise, so that we 
could have entangled each other's rigging, 
there is no telhng what the result might have 

We kept going astern for about three hun- 
dred yards, when both our anchors were let 
go and all the chain in the lockers paid out. 
As the sternway was checked by the strain 
of the mooring chains, our brig began to 
show her antics. Up and down she bobbed 
and curtsied. Her bow was buried in the 
sea at one moment, and in another was lifted 
high, as though she were resting on her stern. 
The old-fashioned windlass began to show 
signs of weakness, as though it was being 
torn from the deck by the incessant jerking 
of the anchor chains. 

A new coil of rope was hauled up from the 
lazaret, and with blocks from the boatswain's 
locker we rove off two long tackles. Wrap- 
ping strong straps on each anchor chain for- 



ward of the windlass just inside the hawse 
pipes, under the small topgallant forecastle, we 
hooked on the falls, overhauling- them till the 
after blocks could reach the straps placed 
around the lower part of the mainmast. As 
she buried her nose we got a strain on the 
tackles which relieved the windlass from the 
severe jerking of the chains. 

I was as busy as any one in this work on 
deck. Though a mere lad, not fourteen, I 
could hold a turn, pass this and the other 
thing, and help in many ways. We were on 
deck the rest of the night, clearing up the 
wreck and expecting every moment to see 
the chain tackles eased by the parting of the 
cables, and our ship dashed to pieces on the 
rocks of the shore. Fortunately we had 
some grain in our vessel, or surely she would 
have rolled over that night. 

At dayhght, after a night of dreadful anx- 
iety and suspense, we made fast the English 
ensign under the jib boom, tying a piece of 
iron at the lower part to keep it hanging up 
and down, so that the man in the signal sta- 
tion on shore could see that we were calling 
for a tug to come to our assistance. It was 
blowing too hard, and too heavy a sea was 


running, however, for a tug to dare to come 
out ; so that day and all the next night we 
had to endure the strain until the gale mod- 

The following afternoon the wind shifted 
to the east and died out to a peaceful calm. 
We worked hard and got our vessel straight- 
ened out again, hove in one of our anchors, 
and passed a quiet night. Next morning a 
rope was passed to the stern of the Russian, 
our anchor weighed, and we hauled alongside 
the full rigger and loaded our brig to the 
hatches with hags of grain. The towboat 
got hold of us and safely docked us at the 
wharf in the harbor of St. George. Here 
the cook, through some trouble at home, 
had to leave the ship, and I was made cook 
for the rest of the time. 

We made four trips to the Russian, re- 
moving cargo enough to enable her to cross 
the bar in safety. We were then towed back 
to Hamilton, and made ready for taking on a 
cargo of onions for New York. If ever a boy 
felt rich in this world's goods, it was I when 
Captain Mayor gave me four English sover- 
eigns, all my own, for services during the 
time we were unloading the grain from the 


Eussian ship. Better still, I felt as though 
I was of some importance, when he told me I 
did very well. 

We made a trip to New York and back 
again, and then loaded onions for a second 
trip. In saying good-by to Captain Hill this 
time, I told him that I should leave the Ex- 
celsior in New York this trip and find some- 
thing to do there, as she was expected to lay 
up in Hamilton for another year on her re- 
turn. I shall always remember the farewell 
words of this uncommon friend as he shook 
my hand. He said, " Boy, I like you. Come 
back whenever you want to. My home is 
yours." He made an impression on me that 
has been ever helpful in making me kindly 
toward young men who are friendless. 

We arrived in due time at New York. I 
had six English sovereigns, which I changed 
for American money ; and saying good-by to 
Captain Mayor, his mate, Mr. Harvey White, 
the colored cook and colored sailors of the 
Excelsior, I started, with my clothes chest, on 
an express wagon, and made my way to my 
sister's in Brooklyn. 

The very next day, in my wanderings 
around the outskirts of this beautiful city, 


I called at the office on the grrounds of the 
Unexcelled Fireworks Factory, and asked the 
owner to give me work. Seeming satisfied 
with the answers I gave to his questions, he 
engaged me to charge Roman candles, for 
three dollars and fifty cents a week, which 
was fair pay for a green boy. It being some 
two miles from where my sister lived, I made 
an agreement with the proprietress of a Ger- 
man boarding-house to lodge and feed me 
and wash my clothes, for three dollars and 
twenty-five cents a week. Living at home 
with his parents, a boy earning three dollars 
and a half a week can, with his parents' help, 
make his way. For five months I worked 
merely for my board. Nearly all of my earn- 
ings were used for living expenses. I had 
even at this early stage of my life acquired 
the tobacco habit. So, with an occasional 
smoke, a new overcoat, and other necessary 
clothes, my exchequer reached a low ebb. 

One evening after the factory was closed 
I became involved in an argument with a boy 
of my own age and size. We came to blows, 
which ended for me with a pair of blood-shot 
eyes. This was my first real fight. Brought 
up tenderly by a loving mother, and unfamil- 


iar with the science of boxing, I did indeed 
get the worst of it. I hung my head with 
shame as I walked away from the crowd that 
had gathered ; not because I had fought, but 
because I had been so easily whipped. 

I would have given anything to remain in 
my boarding-house until my face had lost its 
marks of the strife, but knowing " no money 
no eatie " as the coolies would say, I made 
my way to the factory next morning. With- 
out asking me any questions, the owner of 
the factory discharged me as soon as he 
saw the condition of my face. 

With half a week's wages in my pocket, I 
felt alone in this world as I stood outside the 
factory gate. What should I do ? Oh, the 
refuge of a mother ! I could plainly see her 
face before me. I decided to go home to 

Making my way to the East River wharves 
of New York City, where Trowbridge's West 
Indian sailing vessels were moored, I found a 
barque called the Atlantic loading for Bar- 
bados. I reached her deck and begged the 
captain for a place as cabin boy. My hopes 
were blighted when he said, " I don't carry a 
cabin boy ; the cook does all the work him- 


self." I begged to be shipped on deck as 
a deck boy, and was told that he carried six 
sailors and no boy. I was too small to ship 
as able seaman. 

My disappointment was so great that I could 
no longer keep from crying. I had surely 
thought I could sail home to my mother on 
this ship. Captain Lanfare, whose name I 
afterward learned, was a kind-hearted, fatherly 
man, and seeing my grief, questioned me as 
to my birthplace and parentage. I think I 
see him before me, as, standing erect, he took 
my face in his two sunburnt hands, and with 
a smile that filled my whole soul with joy, 
told me he knew of my father, and that I 
could or-o home with him. 

The Atlantic was to sail that evening. I 
hastened back to my German boarding-house, 
settled with my boarding-mistress, and en- 
gaged a junk dealer to take my clothes chest to 
the ship for one dollar. It was about three 
o'clock that afternoon when I arrived at the 
ship. My clothes were put into the cabin, I 
settled with the junk man for conveying my 
chest on board, and then discovered I was yet 
the possessor of six cents, — a nickel and one 
copper cent. Boy-like I walked up the dock 


to the water front to invest my wealth at a 
peanut stand on South Street. 

I must have been gone an hour, when, on 
reaching the wharf again, I found, to my sor- 
row, the Atlantic was gone. Standing on the 
end of the pier, I could see her following in 
the wake of the towboat, being towed out to 
sea. There have been other times when I 
have felt the horror of loneliness in this world, 
but being older it was more easy to endure. 
What was I to do ? Without clothes, with- 
out a cent in my possession, I felt the misery 
of being nobody in the world. 

The thought came to me to steal my way 
across the ferry and ask help of my sister in 
Brooklyn. But no ! At that time, and at 
other times in my life, I have suffered severe 
privations rather than ask alms of a relative. 
My mother, when she was alive, was the sole 
refuge where I felt I was sincerely welcomed. 
I knew her love made what was hers mine. 
How much suffering I might have avoided if 
only I had trusted in the love of relatives and 

It was in the fall of the year. My over- 
coat was gone with the rest of my clothes. 
Cold and hungry, I remained on the pier till 


long after dark, and it was entirely destitute 
of human life. I then made my way up the 
dock into the city, whose very lights seemed 
to frighten me. Walking along Cherry Street, 
I heard the sound of music coming from the 
open door of a liquor saloon. I ventured to 
walk in. There was a bar where men and 
women were drinking. At the farther end of 
the room was a slightly raised platform, on 
which four men were seated, playing on some 
musical instruments. The open space in front 
of the bar, between it and the musicians, was 
crowded with noisy men and women, dancing. 
This vile, wretched den, filled with tobacco 
smoke and drunken men and women, was part 
of a sailors' boarding-house. 

I must have been standing there some fif- 
teen minutes, when a fat, slovenly, middle- 
aged woman approached me, and, pointing to 

the door, said, " Git to h out o' this." I 

could not move. Fear or something else held 
me as though I was glued to the floor. With 
a blow from her fist, I was knocked to the 
ground. I kept quiet, fearing if I moved 
worse things would happen to me. Seeing 
my outstretched form on the floor, she, either 
suffering with remorse, or thinking I was seri- 


ously hurt, told two men, whom I afterward 
learned by experience were her bullies, to 
carry me to the back room. I was taken to 
her sitting-room in another part of the house, 
where I was placed on an old worn sofa. 

Gradually I made believe I was regaining 
consciousness, and as soon as she thought I 
was in my right mind, in sentences of the 
coarsest blasphemy, she questioned me as to 
my right on earth. After telling her all my 
trouble, I merely said I was hungry. On a 
table close by she placed a dish of cold pota- 
toes and a glass of lager beer, saying, " Git 

on the outside of that, you d brat." The 

beer, which was my first glass, and the pota- 
toes quickly disappeared, and an agreement 
was made with her that I should stay in her 
house and work for my board till she could 
get me a ship. While staying within that 
incarnate devil's home I existed more on 
kicks and cuffs than on anything else. 



Strange as it may seem, sailors who have 
been plundered by these land sharks, on leav- 
ing then* ships will, child-like, forget the 
past and allow themselves to return to these 
vile resorts. The encouraging fact is that 
there are now in all large seaports clean, 
honest boarding-houses for sailors, and that 
the large majority of seamen patronize them. 
Only a small minority of the men of the sea 
throw away their earnings in these dens of 
other days. 

Of late years, through the untiring efforts 
of philanthropic people, much good has been 
accomphshed in eliminating from our large 
seaports some of the dives displaying signs 
as " Sailors' Homes "and " Sailors' Boarding- 
Houses." Still, even at the close of this 
nineteenth century there are left a few of 
these places whose whole aim is to rob and 
plunder seamen. Here they are overcharged 


/ / 


for everything, and kept plentifully supplied 
with the worst kind of liquor as long as their 
money lasts. 

The sailors' resort where I had bargained 
with the mistress to work for my board was 
one of many so-called " Sailors' Homes." 
After my meal of cold potatoes and beer had 
been finished, the '* boss " (the title by which 
the boarding mistress was known) informed 
me what my duties were to be. I was to be 
up at five in the morning, shake down the 
fires in the bar-room, the sailors' lounge-room, 
and the kitchen ; fill the stoves with coal 
from the pen in the yard, and sift the ashes. 
My immediate discharge was assured if she 
found any good coal among the ashes. Then, 
if the bartender had not come down, I was 
to scrub the floor of the lounge-room and 
clean the spittoons. 

After giving me this list of duties, she 
called a lad about sixteen years old, and told 
him to show me the small bed in the big 
room upstairs. The sailors in this house 
were bullied by two men. I was bullied by 
everybody, including this same boy. He, 
being a true son of this uncouth mortal and 
knowing how readily his mother would be- 


lieve what news lie brought her, took every 
opportunity during my stay in that house to 
rob the seamen when they were drunk and 
then accuse me of the theft. 

There were a few small rooms upstairs 
with single beds where the homeward-bound 
sailors slept as long as their money lasted. 
When that was gone they were allowed to 
sleep in the large room, two men in a bed 
large enough for one person only. This was 
in hopes of an advance note paying their 
bills. There were seven beds in this room, 
not including the canvas cot which the boy 
said was my " dos." Being tired, I slept 
soundly and heard nothing until I felt the 
blows coming from the fists of my boarding- 
mistress, which quickly roused me to my feet. 
Curses and oaths were showered upon me. 
To keep warm I had slept in my clothes and 
shoes ; so jumping from the bed I made for 
the stairs, followed by this infuriated creature. 
She was too stout to descend quickly ; so be- 
fore she reached the ground floor, I was fill- 
ing the empty hod at the coal-pen. By this 
time her temper was somewhat cooled, and I 
was again instructed as to my duties and 
allowed to remain. 


For two weeks I cleaned and scrubbed and 
was compelled to do the dirtiest kind of work, 
laboring from early morning till late at night. 
Then I waited until the music in the saloon 
had ceased and the brawling dancers had re- 
tired to their haunts for the night. Although 
the saloon was separated from the main part 
of the house and seemed part of an adjoining 
building, yet through the door to the sailors' 
lounge-room oaths, curses, and the noise of 
occasional fights could plainly be heard. In 
fear and trembling I would remain crouched 
in some dark corner until all was quiet and 
the doors were closed for the night. Then 
I would go up to my cot, which was covered 
with one well-worn quilt, and stretch myself 
under it until all the drunks had come up to 
" roost." When all were fast asleep and it 
was quiet downstairs, I would creep softly 
to the sailors' lounge-room, and on a wooden 
settee by the stove remain, half awake, that 
I might have some work done when the fiend 
should come below. I will credit this woman 
with giving me enough food to eat, such as it 
was, but in return I more than compensated 
her by the work I did. I had only my one 
suit of clothes, which was receiving hard 


usage, and becoming more soiled and filthy 
each day. 

I had heard the sailors talking about 
Thanksgiving Day, and the men were looking 
forward to it with pleasure. The morning 
of the eventful day dawned. My usual work 
had been done and I had taken my seat to 
begin my breakfast. A tooting of horns, 
screeching yeUs of children on the street, and 
the clattering noise of horses' feet, mingled 
with the rumbling of carriage wheels, made 
me leave everything and bolt for the street. 
It was a carnival. Some said they were 
" Greenbacks," a puzzle which has not been 
solved in my mind to this day. I saw a long 
line of carriages filled with people dressed 
in some heathenish manner, shouting, blow- 
ing horns, and followed by the street urchins 
of lower New York, their number augmented 
at every turn of the carriage wheels. With- 
out a thought or care I ran with the crowd, 
shouting as loudly as any boy amongst them. 
Occasionally the procession stopped for a 
moment, and then off we went again. 

We had reached the Battery before my 
mind drifted back to the boarding-house. 
Then with a foreboding that a volley of oaths 


was in store for me, I made my way back. 
A sailor, a Swede who had been in the house 
about two weeks, rushed at me as soon as he 
saw me enter. But for the ready help of 
a kind Irish woman who did the cooking in 
the house, my poor body would have suffered 
severely from the savage blows aimed at me. 

Throwing herself between me and the 
Swede, she made him understand that she in- 
tended to fight my battles. I had worked 
hard beside this queen of the kitchen, and 
had gained her good will. And indeed I 
felt grateful for the ready aid she rendered 
in saving me from the half-crazed creature. 

Jabbering away in his broken English, I 
learned that, having missed his watch from 
his room, he had offered a reward of five dol- 
lars to any inmate of the house who would 
tell him where it was. Tom, the boarding- 
mistress's son, said I had stolen it and put it 
between the folds of the quilt on my cot, 
where indeed it had been found. Of course 
I believed Tom the thief, and loudly gave my 
opinion to that effect. No sooner said, than 
the boarding-mistress rushed at me, poker in 
hand, shouting as she applied it to my back, 
^' You call my son a thief ? You do, do you ? 


Get to li out o' dis house ! " Running- to 

save my life, I reached the street and kept 
going toward the water front, till I felt I was 
far from the clutches of the evil one. 

Not very long ago I visited New York City 
and walked along Cherry Street to see if per- 
chance I might find this boarding-house. I 
could not locate it. The old haunts of that 
part of lower New York seemed entirely 
changed and strange to me. The building 
which appeared most likely to be the house 
is how an ordinary tenement with a small 
grocer's shop on the street floor. 

For eight days I tramped the streets of 
New York, homeless and without a friend in 
the city. Oh, the misery of those few days ! 
Sleeping in doorways, picking ash barrels, 
feeding on decayed fruit and the refuse float- 
ing between the wharves, suffering hunger 
and a benumbed body, my clothes filthy, and 
my shoes almost worn to the uj)pers, I existed 
as a homeless street dog. On the third even- 
ing after leaving the boarding-house, some- 
where in the vicinity of Catherine Street I 
noticed several sailors going in and coming 
out of a building. Each time the door opened 
I could see that it was not a bar-room, neither 


had it the appearance of a boarding-house. 
What could it be ? Should I be allowed in 
there ? 

Lately while relating this bitter experience 
of my boyhood to a Christian woman, she 
remarked, " Why did n't you go to the Y. M. 
C. A., or the Seaman's Institute ? " Why ? 
Because I knew nothing of such places. Born 
and brought up where the church, in which 
people gathered once or twice a week to wor- 
ship God, was the only benevolent institution, 
how was I to know that there were places 
and kind people to befriend the homeless and 
needy ? And with whom had I associated, 
excepting Captain Hill, to learn that there 
were good people in this world who gave 
of what they had to help others ? Personal 
benevolence was something unknown to me. 

I meekly walked in with others who were 
entering, and took a seat at a table on which 
a few papers and books were placed. I did 
not want to read. I cared more to look around, 
trying to form in my mind some idea of the 
object of this room. Texts of Scripture were 
hung on the walls, and near where I sat was 
another table at which men were writing 
letters. Up to the time of my discharge from 


the fireworks factory, I had written home to 
my mother, hearing from her at least once a 
month. Seated in this room, watching the 
men writing their letters, my thoughts flew 
back to my mother, and a desire came over 
me to write and let her know that I was still 
aHve. But I supposed the writing material 
was their own ; and as I had none, and be- 
sides was too timid to speak lest I be noticed 
and driven from the warmth of the place, I 
kept quite still and watched the faces about 
me as the men entered and left. 

I must have been seated some fifteen min- 
utes, expecting at any time to be sent out as 
an intruder, when a kind-faced woman walked 
into the room. Coming up to where I was 
seated, she bade me good-evening. After 
saying a few words to all at the table about 
the fine weather, she turned to me, and, pla- 
cing her hand on my shoulder, said, " My little 
boy, are you a Christian ? " I had been 
brought up to believe in God, and knew the 
Church catechism and Ten Commandments. 
Every morning at home, I said my prayers, 
with my brothers and sisters, at the foot of my 
mother's bed. I had heard that in foreign 
lands there were savages who knew nothing 


of God, and were classed as heathen, but took 
it for granted that all people living in civilized 
lands were Christians. Therefore, the first 
thought that entered my mind was that she 
knew all about my trouble at the boarding- 
house, and wondered if I came from some 
savage land. So, instead of answering her 
question, I began to say, " Tom was the thief " 
and to apologize for being in so filthy a con- 

As I started to leave the hall, this good 
soul took my hand and told me to follow her. 
We crossed the hall and opened a door lead- 
ing into some dark space. The door was 
closed, and for about ten seconds all sorts of 
wild ideas floated through my mind. The 
treatment I had received from people on the 
streets made me suspicious of everybody, and 
I mistrusted this well-meaning woman. 

Turning to me as soon as the room was 
lighted, she said, " Do you love Jesus ? " I 
meekly answered, " I do." I do not mean 
to convey the impression that I had any spe- 
cial love in my heart for Him just at that 
time. I had been taught something of the 
life of Christ in the Sunday school at home. 
It had never occurred to me that He could 



have anything to do with my present troubles, 
so I answered regarding Him, as if she had 
said, " Do you love the Queen of England ? " 
" I do." She then asked me to kneel in 
prayer with her. Any one entering the room 
would have found her kneeling beside a cane- 
bottomed chair, pouring out her soul to God 
for my redemption ; and I, a trembling bit 
of humanity, kneeling at the opposite side of 
the chair, longing for an opportunity to get 
out of the place. 

The whole scene appeared to me as though 
I were known ; and believing the story of the 
boarding-house theft, in this way she would 
try to make me a better boy. I have often 
wondered what this kind missionary thought 
of me. The door of her closet was opened, 
and quickly crossing the hall, I opened the 
street door, to continue my tramping until I 
could find some shelter in a doorway for the 
night. Many times I was shaken by a pohce- 
man and told to go home, and without a mur- 
mur I would start on to find another door- 
way or alley. 

My misery came to an end on a Friday 
evening, the eighth day away from the board- 
ing-house. With no object in view I was 


walking along the streets of lower New York, 
when I noticed small flakes of something 
white falling from the sky. I knew that this 
was snow, though I had never seen any before. 
I had read of snowstorms in northern coun- 
tries and had seen a picture of a winter scene 
which had given me a vague idea of snow. 
So for the first hour I romped and played with 
the falling flakes, so glad was I that I had 
seen it. I forgot my misery. 

My fun was checked by the familiar sounds 
of an organ near by, and hstening, I heard 
the voices of people singing. Yes, within a 
stone's throw of where I was standing I could 
see a church tower. I drew near the door ; 
the music was a strain I knew. I looked 
through the narrow space between the doors 
and saw the minister in his white surplice 
kneeling in his stall, and heard his voice read- 
ing the prayers — the same that were read in 
the parish church at home. The whole ap- 
pearance was familiar to me, and with a feel- 
ing of security I entered and slipped into a seat 
of a vacant pew near the back of the church. 
In that same pew, separated from me by a 
wooden partition, was an elderly lady. God 
bless her ! I was so much occupied with com- 


paring the seats and other things in this 
church with the parish churches in Barbados 
and Bermuda, that I remember paying no at- 
tention to the sermon. But the rising of the 
people, as the minister turned and said, " And 
now to God the Father," brought me to my 
feet with the rest. 

The closing hymn was announced, and as 
the first verse was being sung, this sweet 
angel of heaven moved toward the partition, 
and smiling, held out her book, inviting me 
to share it with her. 

If I could pen my feelings that night, if 
I could tell the satisfaction and comfort it 
gave me to be in that house of prayer, gladly 
would I do it. My loving mother's face came 
before me ; home associations were near ; it 
seemed as though I stood once more by my 
mother's side in St. James parish church. I 
looked at the white, delicate hands so near 
mine ; so clean, so refined, so different from 
those I had seen for the past three weeks. I 
breathed once more the holy atmosphere of 
my child life. Before the close of the hymn 
I was sobbing as though my heart would 
break. With a feeling^ of shame to be seen 
crying, I started for the door, there to be met 


by this Christian saint. Without asking me 
a question, she gave me her hand, and in that 
blessed hand-shake took the opportunity of 
pressing a silver half dollar into my palm. I 
do not remember thanking her. As I carry 
my mind back to that evening, I can see her 
watching me from the church door as I 
reached the street. 

Possessing a silver half dollar, a new 
strength entered my being. Making my 
way through the falling snow, I reached a 
cheap lodging-house. I entered and pur- 
chased a bed for ten cents, carefully tucking 
away the remaining forty cents in my well- 
worn trousers. No words of mine can de- 
scribe the wretchedness of that lodging-house. 
In the room where I lay were about twenty 
beds filled with men, whose clothes, like mine, 
were teeming with vermin and dirt ; a place 
a trifle more comfortable than the gutter 
in the street. Still, for that night I was 
out of the snow, away from the kicks and 
cuffs of the street boys and sheltered under 
a roof. 

I resolved that I would on the following: 
day make one more effort to find a ship sail- 
ing for Barbados. Every day during the 


eight days I had walked the streets, I had 
visited not only ships sailing to the West In- 
dies, but English and German East India- 
men, ocean steamers, canal-boats, tugs, and 
vessels of every description, offering my ser- 
vices for my board. One captain would have 
taken me, as he wanted a cabin boy, but, 
turning away, said to the steward, " He 's too 
dirty looking," and to me, " You won't do." 

Sometimes I was of service to some of the 
cooks, helping them clean their galley pans, 
and thereby earned a morsel of food. All 
the captains whom I asked to give me a berth 
on board gave me, instead, the discouraging 
answers, " I don't want you," or " You 're too 

On reaching the street next morning, 
ploughing my way through the snow, I 
entered a small eating-house, where I paid 
ten cents for a cup of coffee and a piece of 
custard pie. Then I wended my way once 
more to the wharves where Trowbridge's 
West Indian ships were moored. At the 
wharf was a brigantine, on board of which 
the stevedores were driving in single file a 
pack of mules. The animals were huddled 
together on the wharf near the side of the 


ship. Bales of hay and other things left on 
the wharf were covered with snow, and the 
ship's rigging and furl of the sails looked as 
though they had been painted white. 

As I stood gazing at these things and won- 
dering how they could ever get the ship clear 
again, I noticed her name on the bow, though 
too much covered with snow to read at that 
distance. Drawing near, I saw in yellow let- 
ters the name Victoria. The sailors arrived, 
driven to the wharf in a wagon with their 
bags and chests. I saw them go on board, 
carry their things to the forecastle, and 
watched them shaking hands and saying 
good-by to a man called Mr. White ; though 
some, made more familiar by drink, addressed 
him as " Dago White." 

Determined to find out something about 
the Victoria, I inquired of Mr. White where 
she was bound. He very kindly replied, 
"Port of Spain, Trinidad." He was the 
first man I had met for three weeks who 
would answer my many inquiries without 
teUing me I wanted to know too much and 
that I shouldn't ask so many questions. 
Finding hitn willing to talk, I got the cheer- 
ing news that the Victoria was bound to 


Port of Spain to discharge her deck-load of 
mules, and thence to Barbados to discharge 
her cargo. 

I watched my chance while every one 
seemed busy casting the lines adrift from the 
wharf, and the captain was talking with the 
captain of the towboat alongside his ship. 
I jumped on the rail of the vessel between 
the shrouds of the fore rigging, and made 
my way over the mule pen down into the 
forecastle. Once in, I saw in a top bunk a 
large sailor's clothes-bag. Springing up into 
the bunk, I lay down between the bag and 
the bulkhead of the forecastle. My heart 
thumping and beating, I remained there for 
fully three hours. The galley was a small 
space, a part of this forward house divided 
off for such use. I could hear the cook 
coming and going, only the partition sepa- 
rating him from me. At times I thought he 
was in the forecastle, so distinct were the 
sounds of his rustling and moving of pots 
and pans. 

I felt the motion of the brig as the tow- 
boat hauled her astern, the noise of the men 
on deck clearing up and getting things se- 
cured, the setting of the topsails, and at last 


the welcome " hee-hawing " of the men as, 
hand over hand, they got in the towHne. 
Then the soft rolling of the ship speeding on 
before a fair northerly wind told me I was 
at sea again. 

At noon the men came below to dinner. 
The sailor's pot, pan, and spoon were in his 
bag. He moved it, and jumped back when 
he saw a form and heard my scream. Word 
was taken to the captain that a stowaway was 
forward. The mate's voice shouting down, 
" Send that fellow on deck," brought me 
once more up into the free open air of Heaven. 
I could see the highlands of the Jersey coast ; 
vessels of all kinds were going in to New 
York and coming out. I was in a state of 
both happiness and fear as I walked aft with 
the mate. Happy, because I left behind me 
recollections of misery; fearful, because of 
the reception that awaited me aft. 



Captain Spencer, of the brigantine Vic- 
toria, was the sort of man with whom the 
children of the street would delight to romp 
and play, and make their friend. 

Walking aft over the bales of hay which 
covered the top of the mule pens, I was 
ushered into his presence by the mate, saying, 
" Here he is, sir ; " and the kind manner in 
which he asked, " What brought you here, my 
lad ? " dispelled all fear of cuffs and oaths, 
which I had expected to be my reception. I 
felt a freedom in his presence, and readily 
told him I was a native of Barbados, and, 
wanting to go home, I had stowed away in 
the forecastle when the ship was leaving the 
wharf. I might have kept on talking and 
relating my troubles to him, so full of ten- 
derness was his face ; but seeing the cook 
walking forward from the cabin to the gal- 
ley, he hailed him and said, " Take this lad 


along with you and give him some dinner." 
And going down the steps of the after com- 
panionway, he descended to his own meal. 

I was very hungry ; the bit of custard pie 
was all I had eaten that day. The colored 
cook was both cook and steward ; and being 
in a hurry to get aft again, where he could 
be on hand if wanted at the cabin table, 
hastily passed up to me, where I was stand- 
ing on the mule pen, a black saucepan half 
filled with mutton stew, a fair-sized junk of 
bread, and a large iron spoon which was 
used for cooking purposes, and told me to 
" sail in." 

It was then the first week in December. 
The snow which had fallen the night before 
lay in undisturbed heaps upon the bales of 
hay. A keen, piercing northerly wind was 
penetrating my thread-worn garments. The 
cook had no sooner gone aft than a voice 
coming up from the forecastle door, beneath 
my feet, shouted, " Come down here out of 
the cold and eat your grub." Holding my 
saucepan in one hand, the long handle of 
the spoon extending well over the top of the 
rim, and the bread in the other hand, I el- 
bowed myself down the pieces of wood nailed 


to tlie forward end of the mule pen, safely 
readied the forecastle door, and entered. 

This, Hke the galley door, opened on the 
after bulkhead of the forward house, facing 
the main hatch. Usually there would have 
been an unobstructed view to the cabin door ; 
but on looking aft after entering the fore- 
castle, I could see a line of mules on each side 
of the ship reaching from the forward house 
to the cabin bulkhead. The mule pens were 
so close to the forecastle that they not only 
obstructed the hght entering the doorway, 
but gave the forward mule on the port side 
of the ship an ample opportunity to sniff at 
the men as they went below. He was a 
vicious beast; but with many slaps on the 
face as each time he attempted to bite at us 
during the trip to Trinidad, he lost consider- 
able of his refractory spirit. 

There was enough daylight for me to 
dimly see the appearance of the forecastle, 
and the three men who were in it. It was a 
small, square room with four bunks ; the 
light from a small window on the port bulk- 
head revealed to me a bench. Seating myself 
with my back against the warm partition 
which separated the galley from the fore- 


castle, I made away with the contents of 
the saucepan. The sailors were busy un- 
packing their bags, getting their donkeys' 
breakfasts (straw beds) spread out in their 
bunks, and making their quarters comforta- 

They had finished their dinner, and were 
smoking their pipes, when their attention 
was drawn to me by the exclamation of the 
man nearest me. He, seeing the saucepan 
empty and the last bit of bread disappearing, 
declared in language of the strongest kind 
that I had the stomach of a horse. At his 
vehement outcry, all attention was concen- 
trated on me. For the next few moments I 
was the object of their jokes. They set to to 
make me believe the strangest and most un- 
heard-of stories of the captain and the ship, 
untn the voice of the second mate shouting, 
" Turn to below there ! " put an end to their 

I noticed as each man started from the 
forecastle door that the mule was given a slap. 
Omitting this, I started to follow, but when 
about halfway to the top of the mule pen, 
I felt a tug at my trousers' leg. I saw the 
mouth of the mule at my feet, and, in fear 


of having his teeth reach my skin, I stum- 
bled and fell, cutting the back of my head, 
which struck against the iron ring in the 
forecastle door. It was a mere scratch, from 
which the blood flowed freely, but sufficient 
to elicit the sympathy of all. They helped 
me to the top of the pen, and there examined 
the bruise. 

On account of their gathering around me, 
the captain came forward to see what was the 
trouble. This kind, good-hearted man in- 
vited me into his cabin to dress the cut ; and 
coming into such close contact with me 
there, he discovered the state of my clothes 
and body. That vicious mule had not only 
won for me the sympathy of the crew, but 
also given me an opportunity to be questioned 
by the captain as to who and what I was. 

I can now see the surprise on his face when, 
in answer to his question if I was related to 
Mr. John King, of Payne's Bay, I replied 
that I was his son. Like many other sea 
captains, he had spent many an hour in my 
father's company in the Masonic lodge, and 
knew him very well. Oh, the joy of that 
moment when he told me my father was his 
friend ! Only a few moments, and my clothes 


were floating far astern in the wake of the 
vessel, and I was being put through a thor- 
ough process of scrubbing and cleansing. 
After he had administered to me this much- 
needed bath, he entered his room and re- 
turned with a bundle of clothes, socks, and 
shoes which he had taken from the ship's 
slop chest. 

It was not long before I was on deck again, 
my shoes many sizes too large and my clothes 
having every appearance but that of fitting. 
At any rate, I was clean and warm, even 
though I appeared, as the mate remarked, 
like a scarecrow, fit to be hung in the corn- 
fields to frighten away the crows. I knew 
every rope on board, and readily discovered 
that the Victoria, had a throat and peak 
mainsail instead of the mutton-leg mainsail 
and ringtail gaff topsail of the Excelsior. 
With this exception, in build and rig, she was 
exactly like the old Bermudian. It seemed 
to please the captain when I told him of my 
observation of the rig of his ship. 

About four o'clock that afternoon I was 
told to come below with him. On reaching 
the cabin, he opened a door leading into a 
room with two bunks, and told me that this 


was roy state-room. Left alone in the room, 
I tried the bottom bunk. How soft and lux- 
urious ! My back had not touched so com- 
fortable a spot for days. I fell asleep and 
did not awaken until the next morning, when 
the scrubbing of the men overhead, as they 
washed down the top of the cabin, roused 
me from my peaceful sleep. 

I went on deck, and watched with exquisite 
pleasure the bubbling water along the side 
of the ship and the foaming wake she was 
leaving behind. The wind was dead aft, 
which made only the square sails on the fore- 
mast of any service in speeding us along. 
There was not much deck to wash down ; 
only the top of the cabin and forecastle head, 
which being done, the pumps were manned. 
There were only three men on deck, the mate 
and two sailors, which was the whole of the 
port watch. One of the sailors was at the 
wheel, the other sailor and mate were jerking 
up and down, clankety bang, the one-arm 
handle of the piunp. It was a mean, clumsy 
contrivance at its best, but more so at this 
time, for it was buried beneath the mule pen 
close abaft the mainmast. I could see the 
back of their heads as they bobbed up and 


down at each bang of the pump handle, 
" Spell, ! " and " Another try for a suck." 
I squeezed myself down on the ship's deck 
where I could get a hand on the handle, 
and then I exercised myself enough to win a 
pleasant, " That 's the boy," from the mate. 
' The captain had just come on deck, and 
calling me to him, he gave me a pair of trou- 
sers which he had worked on himself during 
the night, telling me I would find them short 
enough to move around in. I then learned 
from him that, against his wish, I must work 
during the trip, as it would displease the 
owners to know he had made a passenger of 
a stowaway. I wanted to be of service, and 
asked to be allowed to work on deck and not 
in the cabin with the cook. Accordingly, I 
was detailed to wash the mules' faces and be 
around the deck, " All day on, and all night 

Every morning I was called at half past 
five to begin the day with pail and rag, 
going from mule to mule, washing the faces 
of all and sponging their eyes, while the mate 
or second mate, whosesoever watch it might 
be, with the sailor of the watch, would follow 
with water and hay. This was my morning's 


duty while the mules were on board. I would 
finish cleaning their faces by breakfast time, 
and the rest of the day would at times take 
a trick at the wheel, hold a turn of a rope, 
and lend a hand cleaning paint-work, doing 
whatever a boy of my size could around the 
deck. I then learned a deck-load of mules 
is not a very desirable freight on a small ves- 
sel in a heavy sea. 

On the third morning out we were in the 
Gulf Stream. The fair northwest wind was 
increasing in force, and by dinner tune it was 
blowing a gale. Running before a large 
swell and burying her rail at each roll on 
a Hue with the sea, our brig would at times 
receive the top of a following wave, which 
made it very risky as well as uncomfortable 
for the mules. If our decks had been clear, 
we could safely have run with the gale. 
After the watch had gone below and had 
eaten their dinner, all hands were called to 
heave her to. The foresail was clewed up 
and furled ; the mainsail close reefed and set, 
and the fore-topmast staysail flattened aft. 
The helm put down gently, main sheet and 
lee braces manned, our brig pointed her nose 
to the wind, and laid to like a duck. 


About seven o'clock that evening a noise 
as though the heavens were falling made 
our ship tremble from head to stern. It 
seemed as though we were a toy in the hands 
of a giant. Standing by the side of the man 
at the wheel, I heard the shout, " Fore-top- 
mast staysail carried away, sir." The " old 
man " (title of aU captains by virtue of their 
of&ce and not because of their age) came 
rushing on deck, shouting, " Call the watch ! " 
Following the mate forward to the forecastle 
head, I could see the dark sail against the 
darkened sky, slatting and banging Hke some 
wild monster that had been just set free. 
The sailors were " hee-hawing " and pulling 
at the down haul, trying to haul down to 
the boom the struggling, resisting sail. The 
whip which had been rove through a block 
in the pennant, the whole forming a sheet 
for the sail, had parted. The slatting of the 
sail, after it had been hauled down to the 
boom, had twisted the pennant round and 
round the bobstay. Bellying out like a bal- 
loon, it was impossible to get the sail secured. 

I was standing with the mate, both of us 
holding on to the capstan on the forecastle 
head, watching the men on the boom doing 


their best to smother the sail. Being- of no 
service, and realizing that I would be safer 
aft than on the forecastle head, I started to 
grope my way aft. Just then she buried her 
bow under. I felt myself scraping along the 
forecastle head, and, like falling in the descent 
of a waterfall, I was washed under the feet 
of the mules. Pulling myself out without a 
scratch, I met the mate going aft, shouting, 
" The boy is overboard ! " How those five 
men held on to the bowsprit that night has 
ever been a mystery to me. The mate had 
a good grip on the capstan, which saved him 
from being washed along with me. Soaking 
wet, I went below, and missed the seaman- 
ship of that night. 

Next morning I got into my half-dried 
clothes, which had been hanging by the cabin 
stove, and went on deck to begin my work 
as nursemaid for mules. The gale had mod' 
erated, and we were again running before a 
good-sized sea, making good weather of it. 
One of the mules had died during the night, 
so after breakfast a few of the planks were 
taken up from over his stall, and the dead 
carcass was hoisted up through the open 
space, and with a lee roll of the ship, his 


body was let go, and went splashing into the 
sea, a feast for sharks. During the fore- 
noon watch I learned from Bob, one of the 
sailors, how the fore-topmast staysail was se- 
cured. The brig was put before the wind so 
that the clew of the sail could be reached, 
the fouled pennant unhooked, and the weather 
pennant and whip hauled over the stay and 
used as a lee sheet. While this was being 
done, the brig was making better weather 
running than she had been at noon, when 
first hove to, which made the " old man " 
decide to continue on his course. Going 
forward and looking over the bow, I could see 
the fouled pennant of the staysail dragging 
from the bobstays. The moderating gale 
carried us quickly across the Gulf Stream, 
and on the fifth morning pea coats, mittens, 
and mufflers were left below, being no longer 
needed in the warm southern latitude. 

For three days we sailed through masses 
of gulf weed. During my meal hours and in 
the evening after the day's work was over, I 
would take my seat on the jib-boom end and 
watch our brig cut her way through the beds 
of green stuff. The whole ocean resembled 
a corn-field. The blue water of the ocean 


could only occasionally be seen. We picked 
up a strong trade wind, which carried us 
well into the tropics and then died out to a 

On the eighteenth day out we made the 
land of Trinidad, and that night dropped 
anchor in the peaceful waters of Port of 
Spain harbor. Next morning, after a good 
night's rest, all hands were called, coffee was 
served, and the word " Turn to ! " came from 
the second mate. A purchase was rigged 
for getting the mules over the side into the 
empty Hghters which were to carry them to 
the shore. A canvas apron was passed under 
each mule ; a pull on the fall, and he was in 
mid-air, kicking all four heels until landed 
in the lighter. This was the work of only 
a few hours. 

That night, Christmas Eve, we weighed 
our mud hook and sailed for Barbados. Al- 
though it is only a day's run from Barbados 
to Trinidad, it took us until the night of the 
twenty-eighth before we dropped anchor in 
Bridg-etown Harbor. It is a dead beat to 
windward against the northeast "trades." 
We sailed full and by the wind, making St. 
Vincent and St. Lucia on our weather bow. 


Then using the "trades" as a leading wind, 
passed between Martinique and St. Lucia, 
headed straight for Barbados, and dropped 
our anchor in Carlisle Bay. 

How happy I felt as I looked once more 
on my native hills ; on the windmills on the 
sugar plantations, their four large points re- 
volving round and round, grinding the juice 
from the cane ; on the boats sailing into the 
wharf with their freight of flying fish, and 
on the white sandy beach along the shore. 
The joy made me restless. The captain had 
gone on shore, and had told me to remain on 
board till he returned. I could not, so anx- 
ious was I to reach my home. I hailed a 
flying-fish boat to take me on shore, and bar- 
gained with its captain to give him for his 
trouble my thirty cents, the remnant of my 
good angel's gift. Shouting " Good-by " to 
the mate and to all on board, and promis- 
ing to be back the next day, I got into the 
flying-fish boat, and in a little while I was 
standing once more on my native soil, after 
an absence of twenty-two months. 

Once landed, I kept along the western side 
of the town, doing my best to shield myself 
from the eyes of the people. I felt ashamed 


to be seen in the clothes which had seen much 
service and were hanging so loosely upon 
me. The peaked cap which the mate had 
given me the first day out from New York 
was pulled well over my eyes. So, shunning 
everybody, I reached the sand beach outside 
the town. When within a mile from home 
I was forced to leave the beach and take the 
highway, as the rocks along the shore ex- 
tended to the water's edge. Before I could 
pass this stretch of rocks and reach the beach 
again, a negro from Payne's Bay, driving 
home in his donkey cart, recognized me. 
Whipping his donkey, he hurried along to 
carry the news of my coming to my mother. 
At last the old house hove in sight ; I 
reached the street, walked quickly up the gap, 
and was once more in the fond embrace of 
my loving mother and father, and in the com- 
pany of the dear ones at home. That even- 
ing, until bedtime, the friendly natives from 
all parts of the village called to shake hands 
and welcome me home. From the time I saw 
the Atlantic towing down the East River 
until I arrived at home, it never occurred to 
me that my clothes chest would be sent home 
to my parents. Within the past four years 


to tliis time, my mother had received word of 
the death of two of her foster children, whom 
she loved as her own. These two brothers 
of mine were sailors. One had died at sea, 
his body committed to the deep ; the other 
had passed away in a hospital in Savannah, 
Georgia, and was buried on a foreign shore. 
Within a few weeks of my arrival she had also 
received the sad news that her firstborn had 
been washed off the flying jib boom of the 
schooner Ella Francis while on a passage from 
Jacksonville to New York. 

She was just recovering from this severe 
blow of the loss of my brother, when Captain 
Lanfare of the Atlantic called, bringing my 
clothes with him. He told her of my putting 
my clothes aboard his ship, and that no one 
on board could teU what had become of me. 
After the towboat had left his vessel, he 
thought of me, and the ship was searched 
from stem to stern, trying to find me. The 
only hope he could hold out to her was that 
I might have gone ashore again, unobserved 
by any one, and missed the ship. When the 
negro brought word that I was coming down 
the road, she left her bed, forgetful of her 
neuralgia, and with the rest of the family at 


home watched eagerly for my appearance. 
It was some minutes before it dawned upon 
me what her tears of joy meant. Everybody 
thought I was at the bottom of the sea, ex- 
cepting my mother, who through those three 
weeks of suspense hoped that I might yet be 
ahve and be spared to her. 

I soon got into a suit of my own clothes 
wliich had been aired and put away. Once 
more in a rig that fitted me, breathing the 
hallowed atmosphere of home life, I related 
my experience to my mother, keeping from 
her and all the family the bitter experiences 
of my stay in New York City, which they 
never knew. 

Next morning I kept my word and was 
again on board the Victoria. Captain Spencer 
seemed annoyed with me for leaving the ship 
before he had returned aboard. The day 
we arrived, as soon as he had entered his 
vessel in the Custom House, he went into 
De Costa's clothing-store and purchased a 
suit of boy's clothes for me, and on arriving 
aboard, found that I had left. I gave him a 
letter from my mother inviting him to take 
dinner with our family on Sunday, which he 
accepted, and in a few moments we were good 


friends again. I wanted my mother to meet 
the sailors of the Victoria, and therefore in- 
duced Captain Spencer to have them row him 
down to our house in his ship's boat, a dis- 
tance of five miles. When Sunday comes 
after a week of toil, sailors expect to be given 
that day for rest. So when Captain Spencer 
said his men would growl if he had them row 
him that distance on Sunday, I readily told 
him I had talked it over with Bob and the 
rest, and they wanted to do it. Before seeing 
the captain when I got aboard that morning, 
I had told these kind men my mother wanted 
them to come, and put my plans of rowing 
the captain before them. 

Sunday noon, Captain Spencer, rowed by 
his four seamen, made a landing on the beach 
at our back door. What an afternoon of 
pleasure for me ! I can now call to my mind 
the picture of this good captain walking be- 
tween my father and mother, the four sailors, 
with my sisters and myself, following close 
behind them on our way to evening service 
in the old parish church. Late that night 
they bade us good-by, and loosing their boat 
from the beach, they rowed back to their 


At this time of my life my father was well 
on in age, entering his seventy-fourth year. 
His eyesight was rapidly failing, which forced 
him to resign his position. What money he 
once possessed had been lost by trusting too 
much to others, and it meant a struggle to 
meet the home necessities and maintain his 
dignity on the pension he received from the 
government for his faithful services. I re- 
mained at home restless, not wanting to go to 
school, and too young to be of any real use 
in the business life of Barbados. So with 
a feeling that I could earn some money and 
send it home if I were at sea, I expressed a 
desire to travel again. 

One afternoon, eight weeks after I had 
reached home. Captain Darrell of the schooner 
Maggie drove up to the door and spent the 
evening with us. He had arrived from Ber- 
muda and had called to see us. That night 
I secured from him the promise of a passage 
on his ship to Bermuda. My mother was 
grieved, but her grief was mitigated by the 
thought that as I had pulled through for 
nearly two years without any accident befall- 
ing me, I would, now that I was a Httle older, 
get along safely. Had she known of my ex- 


perience and of the habits I had acquired 
during my stay from her, I should not have 
gained her consent to leave her again. She, 
like many other good mothers, had not the 
faintest idea of what a sailor's life is, or 
what the temptations are that are placed in 
his way in the seaports of the world. 

On March 3, 1882, not then fifteen years 
old, I again said the sad good-by, and with 
my chest well packed with clothes, joined the 
Maggie as a passenger, sailing away to visit 
my old friends in Bermuda. It was late in 
the evening when the schooner got under 
way. Captain Darrell kept close to the shore, 
and about seven o'clock, to my surprise, he 
brought his vessel to, right opposite our old 
home, and dropped anchor about a stone's 
throw from the beach. Then lowering the 
boat, he, with his mate, Mr. Johnny Hill, who 
was a nephew of Captain George Hill, and 
myself, pulled for the shore, leaving the ship 
in charge of the cook and sailors. 

It was an evening that will ever be fresh 
in my memory. It was the last one I spent 
with my mother. What thoughts of danger, 
of storm, and of sickness will enter one's mind 
when we have to say good-by to dear ones, 


who are leavino^ us to cross the sea ! Thouo4i 
steam has lessened much of that fear and 
di-ead, we still have to put forth every effort 
to dispel the gloom by making ourselves be- 
lieve " all will go well." I had said good-by 
in the morning, and now as the early morn- 
ing hour of another day was dawning, I 
was saying good-by again. It was close to 
midnight. The stars were shining brightly 
overhead. The whole family were standing 
on the beach, the boat rocking in the easy 
surf and wash of the waves. We could see 
the black hull of the schooner riding at 

My mother held in her hand a large, old- 
fashioned candlestick, and the light of the 
candle cast its rays upon her face. Can a boy 
forget his mother's face ? No, never ! All 
through life that face has lived in my memory. 
I will confess that in days gone by, when in- 
dulging in most every kind of sin, whenever 
she would enter my mind, a desire to be better 
came also, and I must say that it was an effort 
to think of other thina;s and to drive all such 
noble longings from my heart and mind. 
Her presence, always with me, mingled with 
the thoughts of home, gained the victory as 


I launched into manhood, creating in me a 
desire to live as she would have had me Hve. 
That night, filled with grief because of my 
departure, she kissed me her last good-by. 

Bermuda has for many years been a strong 
naval station in Great Britain's western pos- 
sessions. There is always at least a regiment 
of soldiers there ; sometimes two regiments, 
stationed on the different parts of the island. 
The North Atlantic fleet spends considerable 
time each year at the government dock-yard. 
These soldiers and sailors are socially ostra- 
cized by the inhabitants of the island. While 
the white native Bermudians will work by the 
side of their fellow colored countrymen, they 
still maintain a certain social distinction. But 
all classes, both white and black, regard the 
EngHsh soldier and man-of-war's man as a 
loathsome object, whose company is undesir- 
able. It may have been the conduct of these 
men that gave rise to this feeling. However, 
it was so. No respectable man will invite an 
English soldier to his home. The social law 
of the island forbids it. 

After I had arrived at Bermuda I wanted 
to be at work where I could earn some money 
instead of wasting my time at Captain Hill's 


home. The onion season was over, and there 
was no freight for ships. I visited the dock- 
yard one day, and there heard that an engi- 
neer's mess servant was wanted. I appHed for 
the position, passed the doctor's examination 
in the sick bay of the guard ship Irresistible, 
and donned the uniform of a mess steward 
of Her Majesty's Navy for a service of five 

I wrote to Captain Hill telling him of my 
enlistment. He did not reply, and when I 
called to see him, I noticed that he was dis- 
pleased. I learned from him that as a ser- 
vant in the navy I had cut myself off from 
my friends in Port Royal Parish. To do an 
honest day's work in the field or shop, or to 
be a sailor on a merchantman, or any employ- 
ment in civil hf e, was considered respectable, 
but an enhstment in the army or navy was 
degrading. I lived through six months of 
flunkyism on the Irresistible, and then, to 
please my old friend, I asked for my dis- 
charge, which was granted me as soon as I 
found a boy to take my place. 

Arrangements were then made with Mr. 
Thomas Grier, a blacksmith in Hamilton, to 
teach me his trade. I remained with him 


long enough to learn how to pump the bel- 
lows and remove an old shoe from a horse. 
At that point I was sent on board the bark 
Ruby, of Shoreham, England, with some 
iron-work which had been made for her. 
The Ruby, had brought a cargo of coal from 
Cardiff, and was taking on ballast for Hayti, 
where she was chartered to load logwood for 
Antwerp. During that visit with the iron- 
work I met the captain, and arranged to sail 
with him as deck boy for the glorious sum of 
one pound and ten shillings a month. 

Captain Hill did his best to induce me to 
remain. I can now see him parading the 
floor of his dining-room, and can hear his 
voice bewailing my foolishness. " What will 
your mother say ? Of all places for you to 
go to, a pest-hole of yellow fever and small- 
pox ! " "I don't mind that," I replied. Say- 
ing my last good-by to this dear old friend, 
who since then has rounded his old ship into 
the land-locked harbor of rest, I made my 
way on board the Ruby. I was a boy not 
sixteen years old when, for the first time, I 
was to sail among strangers, to begin on my 
own resources the life of a sailor. 



During my few visits to the Ruby with 
iron-work from the blacksmith shop, I had 
the opportunity of becoming acquainted with 
the crew. The captain, a native of Norway, 
whose name was Olsen, wore a large piece of 
blue ribbon in the buttonhole of his coat. 
He was known to be a temperance man, and 
for being so strict an abstainer was nick- 
named " Joe Water." Mr. Moore, the mate, 
was a rugged old chap with gray curly locks 
and beard, resembling Santa Claus. He was 
a true " shell-back." He had followed the 
sea all his hfe, and had served in every 
position on board ship. He had seen better 
days. Although for years master of large 
East Indiamen, he was now in old age glad 
to make the best of it as mate on an old 
hooker like this. 

The colored cook, who was both cook and 
steward, with the captain and mate, were the 


only occupants of the after end of the ship. 
Three able seamen, — Mike, a native of Ire- 
land, Frank, who hailed from Germany, and 
Edgar, a negro from the west coast of Af- 
rica, — with Harry and Moses, two strapping 
young ordinary seamen, comprised the whole 
of the forward crowd. 

As soon as I reached the deck, the old 
mate came up to me, and in a fatherly way 
advised me to go on shore again. " Look 
at me," he said. " See what an old sailor is 
like, — an old sailor, an old dog ! " Seeing 
that I was not willing to take his advice, he 
jumped on the wharf, and, seizing one end 
of my clothes chest, which was on a cart 
there, called me to get hold of the other end. 
We got the chest aboard, and all the way 
to the forecastle door this ancient mariner, 
mumbling in an undertone, repeated to him- 
self these two hnes, — 

*' Rattle his bones all over the stones ; 
He 's only a pauper that nobody owns." 

Once in the forecastle, I slipped into a suit 
of working-clothes and went below into the 
hold of the ship, where I found the mate and 
sailors trimming the stone ballast which had 


been dumped down the main hatcla. My 
work of moving the stones from the heap in 
the hatchway and carrying them out to the 
wings of the ship was interrupted by the 
darky cook, who, bending his head over the 
hatch coamings, shouted, " Dinner below ! " 

I had always eaten in the cabin during my 
few trips to sea, where the food had been 
served in a reasonably clean manner. But 
now on reaching the deck, I saw Moses go to 
the galley and take two large pans to the fore- 
castle. One pan contained junks of boiled 
beef, the other, soup. On placing the pans 
on the floor of the forecastle, the men formed 
a circle around them, each man taking his 
turn at holding the beef with one hand, 
while with the other he cut off what he 
wanted with his sheath-knife. Then bailing 
the soup from the large pan with a small tin 
spoon, he filled his tin dish and moved away 
to eat his meal. 

In a locker in one corner of the forecastle 
a square box, known as the bread barge, was 
kept. It was fiUed with hard biscuit, and of 
all the biscuits I have seen aboard ships, 
these were certainly the hardest. They were 
about four inches in diameter, and fully an 


inch thick, and ahnost as hard as a bit of soft 
pine wood. So full of weevils were they 
that when soaked in the soup, or in the 
" boot-leg " coffee served us, we could skim 
the former off the top by the spoonful. The 
coamings of the main hatch were used by the 
men as their dining-place, and as each man 
made his way on deck, he would help him- 
self to the bread in the barge, then taking a 
spare belaying-pin or using the corners of 
the hatch, he would break the " Liverpool 
pantiles " into bits. 

It had not occurred to me that a pot, pan, 
and spoon were the principal articles of a 
sailor's outfit, therefore I waited until the 
first man had finished and then borrowed 
his. So I ate my first meal on board this 
ship. The towboat was waiting to take hold 
of us, and thus there was no time for me 
to buy these much-needed articles. We let 
go our lines, and in about an hour's time 
dropped anchor in the sound at the mouth 
of the channel, awaiting a favorable wind. 

The cook of the Ruby had died at sea on 
the way to Bermuda, and the present cook 
had been taken from the forecastle to do the 
duties of cook, which consisted in keeping a 


fire in the galley, as there was very Httle to 
cook. He, hearing that I was in need of a 
pot, pan, and spoon, and also that I had 
forgotten to provide a donkey's breakfast, 
came forward and bargained to sell me his 
forecastle outfit for one pound and ten shil- 
lings. I had only eighteen shillings ; so as 
though he were doing me a special favor, he 
sold me his donkey's breakfast, a leather belt, 
a sheath and knife, and a pot, pan, and spoon, 
for my little store of money. I believe I 
could have bought a new outfit in Hamilton 
for half the sum, but not knowing the ropes, 
I must pay for experience. 

For two days we waited for a favorable 
wind. At last it came, a stiff " nor'-wester." 
The windlass brakes were shipped, " up one 
side and down the other," and the slack 
chain was gathered in. " She 's short, sir," 
brought the captain's command to loose the 
topsails and foresail. Here was my opportu- 
nity to show what I could do aloft. Up I 
went on the mainmast, and from yardarm to 
yardarm. I cast off the gaskets as quickly 
as Moses did on the foremast, and won the 
admiration of all. The lower topsails were 
sheeted home, the upper ones mastheaded, a 


few more heaves on the old windlass brakes, 
and we were running with square yards along 
the north shore of Bermuda, bound out to sea. 

During the two days we had been at an- 
chor in the sound, we were visited twice by 
two corporals of an English regiment. They 
came alongside in a government steam launch 
and desired to search our vessel. A soldier 
was missing, and he was suspected of being 
hidden in our ship. They overhauled every 
part of the vessel, and after a second search 
left, convinced that he was not on board. 
We were no sooner clear of the pilot than 
a wretched-looking mortal made his appear- 
ance on deck. He was not only miserable 
from the effects of seasickness, but was al- 
most black with dirt from the bottom of the 
ship, where he had been hiding for three 
days under the stone ballast. Until the 
coal dust had been brushed from his clothes, 
you could not have dreamed he had on the 
uniform of an English soldier. 

Mike and the two ordinary seamen were 
responsible for his being on board. They 
had met the soldier while on a visit to the 
barracks, and had promised to conceal him. 
In the night they dug an opening in the for* 


ward end of the ballast, and placed by the 
side of the keelson two empty beef barrels. 
Taking the heads out of the barrels, they 
made a tunnel into which the soldier crawled 
feet foremost. Then, placing a bottle of 
water and a few pantiles in his safe retreat, 
they barricaded the entrance so that it 
looked like other parts of the ballast ; but 
the stones were so thrown together that 
a current of air might pass through them. 
The corporals had walked over his hiding- 
place without suspecting that he was buried 
beneath their feet. He had expected to be 
in concealment one day only, but unfortu- 
nately the adverse winds kept him cramped 
and hungry for three. As the pilot left the 
ship, Mike went below and, removing the 
stones from the mouth of the barrel, set the 
soldier free. 

Captain Olsen appeared as though he were 
annoyed, but we knew he was glad to have 
the man on board. We were then one hand 
short, and here was an opportunity to have 
the labor of a man for nothing. Bill, the 
English soldier, worked hard, but, with the 
exception of a few old clothes the " old man " 
gave him, left the ship at Antwerp destitute. 


We welcomed him, for after his seasickness 
left him, his Irish wit made him the life of 
the ship and brought him into favor with all 
on board. There were two empty bunks 
against the side of the partition dividing the 
galley from the forecastle. I had the upper 
and Bill the lower one. He had no bed, but 
with a coil of old junk for a pillow and the 
contents of the shakings barrel spread out 
on his bunk boards, he made a comfortable 
" dos" for himself. 

The Ruby had been in cold weather cross- 
ing the Atlantic and also in Bermuda ; but 
now that we were away to the southward 
where it was warmer, the '' night disturbers " 
began to annoy us. The second night it was 
impossible for me to sleep. I thought the 
small things crawling over me were water- 
bugs, but, no longer able to endure the mis- 
ery of being eaten alive, I lighted the fore- 
castle lamp ; and to my horror, not only 
were my clothes and bed alive with bedbugs, 
but they seemed to play peekaboo in the 
cracks of the wooden partition. Far prefer- 
able is the death of being torn quickly to 
pieces by tigers, to being slowly eaten alive 
by bedbugs. 


That niglit Bill and I slept on deck ; our 
bunks were too warm for us. The rest of 
the men were too far from the heated parti- 
tion of the galley to be disturbed. But the 
next night all hands slept on deck and gave 
the bugs full control of the place. In the 
morning every donkey's breakfast was taken 
out of the forecastle and the place given 
a thorough cleaning with potash and hot 
water. My donkey's breakfast, bought of 
the colored cook, had to be thrown over the 
side. I hated to part with it till, upon open- 
ing the tick, I saw the wood shavings with 
which it was filled ahve with vermin. Then 
I gladly committed them all to the deep. 
Although we scrubbed and cleaned, still there 
were vermin. They were in the clothing 
and beds ; they were everywhere. Until 
weeks afterward, when we sailed into cooler 
weather, there was no rest inside the for- 
ward house. 

On the eighth day out we sighted the 
coast of Hayti, and the following afternoon 
brought our ship to anchor in Acquin Bay. 
This is a mere anchorage ; the town is sit- 
uated about two miles from the sea, at the 
end of a V-shaped bay. There are no docks 


or wharves. Along the shore stacks of log- 
wood were piled up ready to be conveyed in 
lighters to the ships. Three French barks 
were riding at anchor, loading logwood. 
These seemed clean and neat aloft, very 
different from our old, poverty-stricken, 
patched-up washtub. 

Shortly after coming to anchor, the boat 
was lowered and Moses and I were detailed 
by the mate to row the " old man " on shore. 
As we neared the shore, we jumped aft at the 
last stroke of the oars, which raised her bow 
and let her slide well up on the mud. While 
the captain was gone in search of his agents, 
we had a chance to see the town, — three or 
four pathways between rows of native huts, 
plenty of half-naked negroes speaking a dia- 
lect which was a mixture of French and Span- 
ish, and an open square where the natives 
sold their produce. This was the town of 
Acquin. Small herds of huge black pigs 
that had no visible owners could be seen in 
every so-caUed street. Grunting and squeal- 
ing, they ran from place to place for filth to 
eat, for they were the scavengers of the place. 

Near our landing-place was a wooden 
house filled with soldiers, who were continu- 


ally beating a drum. It matters not where 
a sailor may be, there will also be some one 
to sell him rum. Moses had eio-ht shillins:s 
belonging to the old mate, who wanted liquor 
in exchange. These native soldiers soon 
understood what he meant when he showed 
them the money and raised his hand to his 
mouth as though in the act of drinking, for 
in a few moments they returned with four 
filled bottles. 

We shoved the boat off, and pulled for 
the ship, hoping to return before the captain 
wanted us. But on reaching her the mate 
began to drink freely, and in a short time 
mate, cook, and all hands had emptied the 
bottles and were forgetful of aU troubles and 
cares. I confess that I joined in and forced 
myself to drink with them, and to accept the 
gift of the mate. I knew it was wrong, 
but it seemed that the more I could drink 
and swear like the others, the more of a 
sailor I would be. 

Next morning I listened to the men relat- 
ing to each other the story of the " old 
man's " coming aboard in a boat belonging to 
a French bark and finding all hands drunk. 
If there was any real goodness in our cap- 


tain, it was in keeping sober. But every- 
body thougbt him too stingy to drink. It 
was known that he owned the greater part 
of the vessel and, to be saving, kept her in a 
wretched state, besides half starving his men. 

The mate seemed much depressed. He 
had been severely censured for his night's 
debauch, and tried with a will to redeem 
the past by working like a slave, getting the 
stone ballast into the lighters alongside the 
ship. At breakfast the cook told me the cap- 
tain wanted me aft. On reaching the cabin 
I received a lecture on temperance and the 
meaning of the blue ribbon in his coat. I 
felt ashamed while in his presence, but for- 
ward among the men all feelings of shame 
left me and I again fell in with my sur- 

In less than a week the ballast was gone, 
and the ship's hold ready for logwood. Saw- 
horses and buck-saws, which had been bought 
in Bermuda, were brought on deck, a stage 
was rigged over the side, and the work of 
loading began. Labor was cheap, and for a 
small sum natives could easily have been hired 
to load the ship. The crew might have been 
well employed in the rigging. But no ; the 


captain was too mean to hire, so we were 
forced to do the loading. Two men in the 
lighter passed up the sticks of logwood to 
the two on the stage. These in turn passed 
them on the rail for the two ordinary sea- 
men and myself to carry to the main hatch 
and drop below. Whenever we came to a 
crooked stick, it was laid on deck, and dur- 
ing the time there was no Hghter alongside, 
we were busy sawing these crooked pieces 
and stowing the cargo below. The straighter 
the sticks, the more the ship could hold. 

From the time we took on board our first 
lighter of logwood until about half across 
the western ocean, we were forever in fear of 
being bitten by the many scorpions, centi- 
pedes, and tarantulas which had been brought 
in the decayed sticks of logwood. They got 
into the forecastle, and the running rigging 
which was stopped to the shrouds ; indeed, 
they were in every corner of the ship. No 
one, not even Edgar the colored sailor, who 
did not mind a few bedbugs, could sleep in 
the forecastle. Bill the stowaway, with the 
three A. B.'s, slept on the forecastle head, 
while Harry, Moses, and I bunked on top of 
the forward house. 


For six weeks we rode at anchor in Acquin 
Bay, sleeping on deck and finding in the 
morning the only dry spots were those where 
our bodies had rested. The heavy dew wet 
our dungarees through. At half past five 
we were called. We would then wring out 
our clothes, drink a pot of colored water 
called coffee, have a smoke, and wait for 
four bells to strike. This was followed by 
the word " Turn to," from the mate. 

At breakfast time our clothes had become 
partly dry, but as soon as we began to han- 
dle the logwood sticks passed up from the 
bottom of the lighter, where they had rested 
in a foot of water, they of course would be 
as wet as ever again. When I think of 
those days, it seems a mystery that no one 
was made sick, for we spent them wet through 
by the water dripping from the logwood, 
and at night we were covered with the heavy 

One night, shortly after I had stretched 
myself on the forward house, I heard Mike 
shouting, *^ Oh, kill me before I die ! " He 
ran aft, and walking abaft the cabin, I saw 
the mate quieting him by giving him the 
contents of a bottle. It must have been the 


worst kind of " chain lightning " (rum), for 
Mike drank, choked, fell, and groaned him- 
self to sleep. He had been bitten by a scor- 
pion. Next day his arm was swollen, but 
with warm applications he was soon able to 
resume his work. Shortly before we sailed 
Edgar began to shout and yell with pain, 
howling like a dog who had seen a ghost. 
He, too, had felt the piercing needle in a 
scorpion's tail, and again the old mate's rum 
proved a ready relief. 

Every night we swept the decks and made 
a careful search for insects before lying 
down to sleep. After we had reached cool 
weather on the mid- Atlantic we got into a 
heavy gale, and shoveled the dead insects, 
which had been washed out of the logwood 
secured on the top of the main hatch, into 
the sea. Even then, on going below we 
turned over our beds and hunted for scor- 
pions and centipedes. 

The " grub," or food, on shipboard is one 
of the chief factors in a sailor's life. The 
saying is, " An old sailor, an old growl." 
Well ! I beheve a sailor has a right to growl, 
and as a rule the more he growls, the more 
he will work. It makes no difference how 


wretched his last ship may have been, what 
poor food or how much abuse he may have 
received, his conversation at every growl is 
a eulogy on the virtues of that last ship and 
the good times he had on her. This, even 
though she may have been a " Yankee slave- 
driver " or a starving " lime-juicer." 

The few months I was on this ship I existed 
on the bare pound and pint of the British 
Board of Trade. At almost every meal I 
joined in with the crew in a ** good all-around 
growl." Not only was the captain blessed 
to the skies, but the whole Board of Trade, 
every shipowner, and every man who owned 
a nail in a ship. Every Sunday morning we 
were mustered aft to the cabin door. There 
the captain watched the cook as he weighed 
to each man a separate pound of sugar and 
a pound of butter, his " whack " for a week. 
Our allowance of tea and coffee was weighed 
in one lot and kept by the steward, who had 
to use ingenuity to make it last the week. 
Pea soup and salt pork, and very Httle of it, 
was our bill of fare one day. The next we 
had " salt horse " and " duff " (flour boiled 
in grease skimmed from the meat). 

Our breakfast consisted of a " Liverpool 


hook-pot " of black coffee and a good supply 
of pantiles. At night more pantiles with a pot 
of tea was all we were given for supper. You 
could have seen our anchor in fifteen fathoms 
of this tea. No meat for breakfast or supper : 
the allowance for the day was barely enough 
for the noonday meal. My teeth were strong, 
so having an abundance of " Liverpool pan- 
tiles," I grew fat and strong. 

A sailor's bunk is his " sanctum sanc- 
torum." He not only sleeps there, but puts 
up shelves and nails canvas pockets to the 
head or foot of it, where he keeps his fork, 
spoon, pot and pan, and whatever trinkets 
he may possess. It is the one place on board 
ship where he can feel absolutely out of the 
way of others. The crew of the Ruby kept 
their sugar and butter in their bunks, and 
woe to the man caught steahng his shipmate's 
whack. My butter and sugar never lasted 
longer than Wednesday ; Frank could make 
his hold out till Friday ; but during the last 
two days of the week, every one was forced to 
drink the " boot-legr " coffee and wretched 
tea without sugar, and eat the pantiles with- 
out a taste of butter. There was no milk on 
board, not even in the cabin ; and although 


the mate and cook were not on their allow- 
ance, still they, too, growled for more food. 

It may seem strange to some seamen when 
I tell of our freedom with the mate. He was 
a fatherly old fellow, whose weakness was 
drink. We all liked and respected him, and 
we knew he could not help us or himself. 
Being well on in years, he did what he must 
to hold his position, and made the best of a 
bad matter. 

I came to consider it a treat if, at the close 
of a day's work, the colored cook gave me 
some skimmed pork grease. I would put a 
layer of this between two pantiles and bake 
them in his galley oven, to eat with my tea. 
Our ship was not only " parish rigged," but 
fed far worse than a parish almshouse. I 
remember one evening I saw a part of a loaf 
of bread floating past. It had drifted down 
from a French bark, and, heedless of sharks 
or anything else, I was over the side and swam 
for it. Though soaked with salt water, it 
tasted heavenly to me. It was the first bit 
of soft bread I had eaten since coming on 
board. We had very little salt beef or pork ; 
and as none could be bought in Acquin, our 
stock had to be preserved for sea use. Cap- 


tain Olsen saved considerable in this boat, for 
be fed us on shin-bones from the Haytian 

Boiled bones, with a bit of the very tough- 
est beef attached, made our diet ; and except 
on Sundays and Thursdays, when a few yams 
or sweet potatoes were served in lieu of 
duff, there was no change in the miserable 
Board of Trade scale. We got what the 
articles called for, — the allowance of beef, 
pork, peas, flour, tea, coffee, pepper, salt, and 
vinegar ; but having no scope for variety 
nor skill in cooking, our diet was not only 
meagre, but wretchedly monotonous. This 
treatment culminated in a mutiny, the story 
of which I will leave for another chapter. 



At last our hold was filled, the seams of 
the hatches caulked, the tarpauHns hauled 
over and securely battened down ; only a few 
more hghters of logwood to be stowed on 
deck, and we would be ready for sea. It was 
a great relief to know we were drawing near 
the day when we should steer our course to 
another port. The only break in the monot- 
ony of work and sleep was the recreation of 
sailing around the bay on Sunday afternoons. 
The captain gave us the use of the ship's 
boat to go where we pleased. He knew there 
was no danger, as he had stubbornly refused 
to advance a cent to any one on board. 

Although the old mate had no money, after 
spending his eight shillings, he still found 
means of having a supply of liquor on hand. 
No one knew how he did it until we were 
some days at sea, when we discovered that he 
had n't a change of clothing. The lighter- 


men in Acquin had taken his clothes in ex- 
change for Hquor. Every man forward had 
shared his rum, and all, therefore, wilHngly 
allowed him to use their clothes. 

Our water supply had to be replenished. 
The two large iron tanks, secured to the deck, 
were empty ; and as I was the smallest per- 
son on board, it was my lot to go, feet first, 
through the manholes in the top of the tanks 
and clean them out. With an old corn broom 
I stirred up the rusty water from the bottom, 
and sluiced and scrubbed vigorously to get the 
thick coating of rust off the sides. Then, bail- 
ing out the dirty water, I gave the tanks a 
liberal coat of whitewash. This took all my 

I had just finished the second tank when, 
feeling that I was losing consciousness, I 
put both hands up through the manhole and 
begged the mate to haul me out. I could 
stand it no longer. The hot sun pouring 
upon the tanks had made them like two 
heated ovens. Wet through with rusty water 
and whitewash, I crawled forward under the 
forecastle head, too sick to do any more work 
that day. 

Next morning I was myself again, and at 


" turn to " helped to get our large clinker- 
built boat over the side. We were making 
preparations to water the ship. The midship 
thwarts were taken out and two large casks 
lowered into the boat. Frank, Moses, Bill, 
and I were told to get in and drop down to 
the gangway. With a jug of water, a can 
of roast beef which was kept for the cabin 
Sunday dinner, and plenty of pantiles, we 
hoisted our mainsail and shoved off, with Mr. 
Moore on board, in search of water. 

Our captain had told Mr. Moore to keep 
close to the land or he would miss the small 
inlet where the spring of water was to be 
found. Unfortunately, the mate had a bottle 
of rum, and no sooner were we clear of the 
ship than he shared it with us. The effect 
of the liquor was to make each man desirous 
of singing a song. The old mate finished his 
" ditty," then keeled over and fell asleep in 
the stern sheets, while we kept running on 
before the breeze. 

We must have been sailing for fully three 
hours when we saw a cluster of houses and 
huts on a projecting part of the coast. We 
roused the mate from his stupor and steered 
for the beach. When we were about a quarter 



of a mile from the village, a boat filled with 
soldiers armed with rifles rowed off and met 
us. Jabbering away in their distracting 
" hngo, " they ran their boat against ours and, 
jumping aboard, made us their prisoners. 

At first it seemed a huge joke. The scare- 
crow uniforms of the soldiers caused Bill's 
Irish wit to flow freely, and we roared with 
laughter at the queer remarks he made. But 
when we were brought before a negro, dressed 
in an old black suit, a faded, well-worn cocked 
hat with a band of dirty gold lace on it, and 
felt the handcuffs on our wrists, we ceased 
our ribaldry and tried to explain who we 
were. When we said we were English they 
would sneer, shrug their shoulders, and yell 
" Americano." 

A guard marched us through the streets 
to the house of an old black man who we 
afterwards learned was a general. He gave 
orders to his men, who marched us to the 
" calabozo." It was well for us it was not 
the hottest season, or I believe we would 
never have left this lockup alive. The mis- 
erable hole, a prison for men, was teeming 
with filth and vermin. It was a mere in- 
closure of stone walls, with no covering to 


protect us from the heat of the sun or the 
dew at night. 

As we reached the door, the soldiers on 
guard began their jabbering. They slapped 
their hands, shrugged their shoulders, twisted 
their bodies, and carried on a full " Portuguese 
argument " while they exultantly examined 
our clothes and removed our tobacco and 
knives. In the " calabozo " the irons were 
removed from our hands, and we were pris- 
oners with about a hundred poor unfortunate 

For three nights and two days we hved in 
this pest-hole on cornmeal mush. It was im- 
possible to rest. The incessant tum-tum of a 
drum and the shouting of the guard would 
have kept us awake if the place had been 
most comfortable. On the second morning 
, we were taken to the foot of a hill near the 
market-place. Again they called us " Ameri- 
cano ; " and standino; a number of the black 
prisoners in a row, the soldiers fired and shot 
them dead. We felt shaky. It seemed as 
if our turn was next, but we were greatly 
relieved when they marched us back to the 

On the third morning a wrinkled Mexican 


came in, walked up to the corner where we 
were huddled together, and said, " Good- 
morning. You English, eh ? " We gladly 
told him our story. Then we learned that 
we were supposed to be the crew of an Amer- 
ican filibuster who had been secretly selling 
arms to the rebels. The republics of Hayti 
and St. Domingo were at war, and this Amer- 
ican steamer had been successful in landing 
arms. They thought that we were the crew 
of this ship and were seeking a landing-place 
on the coast, using our search for water as an 

This old Mexican was very friendly. He 
could speak English enough to make himself 
understood. He had been a sailor in his 
younger days, but now was settled about four 
miles outside this town of St. Louis. That 
morning he had heard of our plight; he 
cheered us up and left us, promising to be 
back soon. 

Hardly an hour had passed when back he 
came and told us to follow him, for we were 
free. We walked with liim to the general's 
house. The old soldier, through our bene- 
factor, told us how sorry he was for causing 
us so much distress, and asked what he could 


do for us. We expressed a desire for a bath 
and some clean clothes. Water was plentiful, 
but clothes were scarce, so he offered us each 
a dungaree soldier's suit, which we accepted, 
and, throwing our filthy garments on the 
beach, we enjoyed a splash in the sea. After 
scrubbing each other with sand, we got into 
the scarecrow suits of the Haytian soldiers. 

The old soldier was more than kind. He 
forced upon us all we could eat, fruits of 
every kind, and all the liquor we wanted. 
The sneers and jeers of the soldiers and na- 
tives were changed into expressions of kind- 
ness. We could do as we pleased. Our 
water casks had been filled by them, plenty 
of fruit stowed in our boat, and late that 
night we were able to throw off the debauch 
of the day and make for our ship. 

All that night we rowed, relieving each 
other at the oars, and shortly after daybreak 
we reached the ship, to be the laughing-stock 
of the rest of the crew. Our shipmates had 
been anxious about us. At first they thought 
we were on a spree on shore ; but when the 
third day passed with no tidings of our where- 
abouts, the captain had decided to make a 
search for us. We quickly shifted into our 


own clothes, and after a pot of coffee were 
ready to help hoist the water casks on board. 
Not a word of the old mate's drinking and 
how we came to miss the watering-place was 
ever divulged to the cook or captain. We 
kept our secret forward, where it belonged. 

For a few days our experience in the " ca- 
labozo " was kept fresh in our minds by the 
painful itching of the chigoes which infested 
our feet. It seemed strange to me that 
neither Mr. Moore nor the other men knew 
about them. As soon as I felt the itching, 
harassing sensation in my toes, I examined 
them for chigoes. Although we had been 
going barefoot for weeks, and our feet were 
hard and rough as an alligator's hide, these 
tropical sand fleas penetrated the flesh and 
made their nests. 

I was the doctor, for I had seen the negroes 
in Barbados remove these insects from their 
feet. I once saw a boy thrown on his back 
by the village constable, while another man 
removed the host of chigoes from his feet with 
a sharp penknife. I alone knew it was neces- 
sary to make sure of getting out the black flea 
with the bag of eggs, or next day there would 
be another installment in the same place. I 


knew that after extracting the chigoes, you 
must fill the cavity with snuff, — a harsh rem- 
edy, but a sure cure. Therefore, as doctor, 
I ground some bits of tobacco to dust, and 
rubbed it into the sore spots till my shipmates 
and I fairly yelled with pain. 

We needed more water, so the next day 
Captain Olsen hired four natives to row him 
to the watering-place, towing behind him a 
lighter with three empty water casks. He 
returned that night with his casks filled, but 
had to make another trip before we had 

The day before sailing the mate told me to 
get into the boat with Harry and Moses and 
row the captain to the shore. Instead of steer- 
ing for our usual landing-place in the mud, 
he kept across and made a landing in the small 
bushes on the side of the bay. Harry and 
Moses went with the " old man," while I was 
left to watch the boat. In a little while they 
hove in sight, leading a cow along. How 
were they to get that stubborn animal into 
the boat ? She seemed large enough to fill 
aU space. 

The thwarts were unshipped, the boat 
turned stern into the bushes, and the fore- 


legs of the cow were placed in the stern 
sheets. I hauled on the rope around her 
neck, while the captain and two ordinary 
seamen pushed behind, and so we made her 
land, with a thump on her belly, in the bot- 
tom of the boat. The weight of the animal 
sunk the boat deep into the mud, and to get 
her afloat we had to dismiss our fear of alli- 
gators and wade in up to our waists. Then 
we shoved and pulled with all our strength, 
while the captain stood on a stump and 
shoved with an oar. An inch, then another, 
and gradually we floated. 

Now came the time to get the captain into 
the boat. The two ordinary seamen formed 
a chair with their hands, and the captain sat 
between them, putting his arms around their 
necks. Whether it was intentionally done or 
not, I cannot say, but Moses sHpped, and with 
a splash the " old man " was buried in mud 
and water. Oh, how he raged ! All four of 
us, soaking wet, got in and, with some pushing 
arid shoving on the oars, started for the ship. 

There was no room to- row, and no clutch 
aft for sculling, so we were forced to stand 
up and paddle. The water was as quiet as a 
mill-pond, and it was not far to the ship. We 


should have reached there safely, but for a 
ripple caused by an empty lighter rowing 
ashore from a French bark. As soon as we 
reached the ripple, the boat began to rock, 
the cow got on her feet, stumbled, and fell 
with a splash into the bay. As soon as she 
came to the surface, we hauled her head up 
to the stern of the boat, and, shipping the 
oars, hastily made for the ship. A stout 
strap was sunk and the bight hauled up with 
the boat-hook under the cow, the fish tackle 
lowered over the bow and hooked on. Then 
with a few lively heaves around the capstan, 
we lifted her dangling in the air, and landed 
her on deck. 

I shall not jar the sensibility of my readers 
by relating the cruel way in which the cow 
was killed. It is enough to say that penal 
servitude should be inflicted in any com- 
munity for such cruelty to a dumb beast, 
even though it was done in ignorance. Cap- 
tain Olsen did the butchering. He kept 
every one busy, some cleaning empty beef 
barrels, others with coarse salt and water, 
making the pickle. It was, " Cook do this," 
and somebody else do the other thing. I do 
not remember how many barrels there were, 


but with the exception of the few pieces for 
immediate use, the whole cow was pickled 
and stowed in the lazaret. 

Our ship was loaded; the logwood piled 
high on the main hatch and lashed securely 
to the ringbolts in the deck ; our sailing day 
had come. It was Good Friday. The two 
remaining French vessels and a Spanish brig 
cockbilled their yards in honor of the day. 
Their yards and mast formed an X, which 
was meant to represent the cross. 

It was a dead calm ; not a breath of air 
was stirrmg. While we were at breakfast, 
an officer in a boat, the only one in Acquin, 
came off to us and requested our captain to 
cockbill our yards. If there had been any 
wind, I think we should have had to man 
the windlass. It was so calm we tipped our 
yards and remained at anchor till early the 
following morning, when we were called to 
" turn to " and man the windlass. 

The cluck and bang of the windlass pawls, 
" Heave, heave, my hearties," from the mate, 
" Down our side," " Lift her out of the mud," 
and many such expressions from the men, — • 
and our anchor was hfted to the hawse pipe 
before a sail was touched. The headsails 


were run up, and away we headed before the 
breeze for the open sea. All sail was made, 
the yards trimmed, and at daylight we were 
steering to the westward, making a course for 
the Windward passage between Hayti and 

The next morning, Easter Sunday, we were 
in the passage. I was at the wheel from 
eight o'clock until ten. I saw the cook come 
aft with a pan of meat which he held at 
arm's length. Strutting along, he reached 
the cabin door and shouted, " Cap'n, this 
meat has an obnoxious odor, sah ! " Sure 
enough ; not only that piece, but every bit 
of the pickled cow had to be thrown over the 
side. As the first bit struck the water there 
was a splash and an upheaval, and it disap- 
peared. In a very few moments we were 
surrounded by a school of man-eating sharks. 

The only benefit we derived from the cow 
was amusement for Easter Sunday forenoon, 
and one meal of fried shark. We baited 
the shark hook, a hook about ten inches long 
and a quarter of an inch thick, with about 
three feet of chain attached. As fast as we 
could put it overboard we had hold of a 
shark. A tailblock was made fast to the 


backstays, a rope rove through it, a running 
bowHne sHpped down over the hook and 
around the shark, and hand over hand we 
flopped them on deck. 

Oh, the superstition of an old " shell-back " ! 
It was the first time I had been in such close 
quarters with sharks, and with the others I 
enjoyed the fun of belaboring them with 
capstan bars and belaying-pins, until we 
thought them dead. The barbarism and 
superstition of sailors' hatred for sharks were 
cruelly manifested in this slaughter. Pieces 
of wood were pierced through the jaws of 
some so that they could open their mouths 
no more, and they were thrown over the side 
to have their misery prolonged. Others were 
cut open and cast overboard to suffer until 
death should end their fate. Many were cut 
to pieces and their backbones hung up to 
dry. These were afterwards polished, to be 
used as walking-sticks. 

The forenoon watch below remained on 
deck and joined in the sport till dinner time. 
Then, having had enough shark fishing, we 
threw the remaining lot of meat over, cleaned 
up the mess of blood and skins, and washed 
down the decks. 


We must have been out about two weeks 
when the small supply of salt beef and pork 
was all eaten. For days we had been beat- 
ing against a strong easterly wind, but were 
now well to the eastward and northward of 
Bermuda, steering for the English Channel. 
From the day we threw the beef overboard 
we had been on short allowance. The cap- 
tain had promised to buy provisions from the 
first vessel we met. We had passed close to 
two steamers and a schooner, but he had 
made an excuse of holding on till we sighted 
Bermuda ; then he would signal for a tug to 
bring off some provisions. 

In some way the men knew we were far to 
the eastward of Bermuda ; so all hands went 
aft and demanded the equal use of the canned 
roast beef and good hard bread, which were 
kept for cabin use. The captain showed 
signs of fear ; the mate and cook remained 
neutral, listening to our heated conversation. 
I do not know who struck the first blow, but 
every one rushed for the captain as he and 
Mike rolled over on deck, clinched in each 
other's arms. A word from Mr. Moore, who 
had power to control us even with a look, 
released the captain from Mike's embrace. 


We gained this victory, as it was agreed that 
we should have our share of the cabin beef 
and biscuits. 

The day's trouble did not end then, how- 
ever. Late that afternoon we sighted a bark 
steering westward. As we drew near, she 
hoisted a Norwegian ensign. Without any 
warning we jumped to the braces and threw 
the main yard aback, shouting to the captain 
to signal and buy some food. He threatened 
to log us all, and ordered the yards braced 
round again. I felt afraid. The captain 
had lectured me for being led into wrong- 
doing by the men, but what was I to do ? I 
did what I considered right ; I stood by the 
forward end, where I belonged. Anyway, I 
was glad to do anything that would give us 
something to eat. 

In the strongest of sailor language Mike 
told " Joe Water " that not another rope 
would be touched by any of us. Further- 
more, he was given to understand that he 
would have to pay us for the food which was 
due us, and that he would be reported for 
not carrying side-lights at night. Several 
nights we had passed close to vessels, and 
they had not seen us till we were very near. 


There was kerosene oil on board, but the cap- 
tain was too stingy to use it. He would have 
the side-hghts put in their boxes ready for 
use in an emergency. He thereby risked the 
lives of several men to save a few gallons of 

To save himself, he yielded. We signaled 
the bark, lowered a boat, and the two ordi- 
nary seamen rowed the captain to the Nor- 
wegian, who had brought his vessel to the 
wind and was head-reaching, waiting for our 
boat to come alongside. No one knew what 
arrangement had been made, but soon the 
Norwegian filled away and our boat returned 
well laden, — a barrel of beef, a barrel of 
pork, two barrels of flour, a small sack of 
coffee beans, and a barrel of tar. We wel- 
comed the provisions, but hated to see the 

There had been very little work to do. 
Most ships, making a port of discharge, would 
be all day painting, cleaning, and making 
the ship respectable for entrance into harbor. 
With us there was no such work. There were 
no stores ; hardly enough old rope yarns to 
make a roving for the head of a sail. We 
passed the watches trimming the yards, a 


spell at the pumps, a trick at the wheel, and 
a lookout at night, and we had a very easy 
time. The sea lawyers forward were too 
many for the captain. Through fear of our 
demanding money for the food due us, or for 
some reason unknown to us, he gave us " full 
and plenty." 

The troubles of that day, however, had not 
yet ended. Frank, Moses, and I, with the 
mate, made up the port watch. It was our 
watch below from eight to twelve that night. 
We had hardly gone to our bunks, when 
we were called to get on deck and reef the 
topsails. The wind had hauled due east and 
was blowing a heavy gale. 

The light sails were hauled down and 
clewed up, and away we went to stow the top- 
gallant sails before we began to reef. On 
reaching the fore topgallant crosstrees I saw 
that Frank had taken the lee topgallant yard- 
arm. As I lifted myself into the weather 
footrope I heard a scream, and looking abaft 
the topgallant mast, saw Frank falhng to the 
deck. I quickly made my way below, and 
found Mr. Moore weeping over the bruised 
and bleeding body of our dead shipmate. 
With the help of the cook we carried it to 


the cabin, and hastened on deck to help get 
the canvas off our ship. It was midnight 
when the old hulk was hove to, under reefed 

It makes no difference how much a man is 
liked or hated on board a ship ; when death 
comes, all wrongs and grievances are forgot- 
ten. A gloom is cast over all. Frank had 
been well liked, and every soul on board was 
disturbed and grieved. It had been only a 
few days since we had begun to feel safe in 
the forecastle, and now we discovered a half- 
crushed dead scorpion between the folds of 
Frank's shirts. 

Meeting cooler weather, we had moved into 
the forecastle, thinking the scorpions were all 
dead. Frank had hurried on deck and, lean- 
ing against the yard trying to gather up the 
sail, his body had pressed the scorpion against 
the yard. It turned its tail and stung him, 
and with pain and fright he fell to the deck. 
This was the verdict on finding the scorpion. 
Frank's body was too bruised to find the 
mark of a sting, and it may have been heart 
failure. At all events, we were on the watch 
for the logwood pests the rest of our voyage. 

The next morning the body was brought 


on deck, sewn in a tarpaulin, with some old 
stove grates at the feet ; and while we stood 
with caps raised, the captain read from a Tes- 
tament. Then to the roaring waves of the 
Atlantic we committed the body of our ship- 
mate. His clothes were taken aft and stowed 
in the lazaret. Bill kept his bed. If I had 
been strong enough to contend with the Irish- 
man for Frank's donkey's breakfast, I should 
have done so. I had been sleeping on the 
top of the forward house, and this lump of 
straw on the bunk boards would have made 
me a luxurious couch. 

I had been told I was a " cheeky boy," and 
had had several scuffles with Moses about his 
cleaning the forecastle and bringing the food 
from the galley. He had whipped me more 
than once, but now I was able to hold my 
own, and he had to do his share of cleaning. 
Bill was in the starboard watch. I kept 
friendly with him, and in my watches below 
he allowed me to share Frank's bed with him 
during the rest of the voyage. 



After the gale we had fair winds and fine 
weather the rest of the voyage. The tar 
barrel was opened and the work of blackening 
the bleached and rotten rigging was begun. 
There was no material for repairs, not even 
enough seizing stuff to straighten the old rat- 
lines. This was my first experience of " tar- 
ring down." I rather enjoyed it. The very 
fact of having my hands black made me feel 
I was a sailor. 

The footropes on the forward yards and 
the headstays were my portion. As soon as 
I came on deck, if it was not my wheel, I 
would sling the tar pot around my neck and 
up I 'd go and straddle the yards. Beginning 
at the end of each yard, I would hold on the 
jackstay, and with my foot get the footropes 
on the yards and give them a rub of tar. 
Seated on the yards, I could look the ship over 
from the man at the wheel to the shark's tail 


on the end of the flying jib boom. At times 
the old mate's voice calling me to wake from 
my dreams would rouse me from my reverie 
and bring my mind back to my work. The 
port watch had finished forward and the star- 
board watch had completed the work on the 
main. It was decided that both watches 
should blacken the mizzen. 

I was at the wheel from twelve to two one 
afternoon enjoying a hearty laugh at the cap- 
tain's expense, when he landed a cuff on the 
side of my head which changed my joy into 

When in Acquin, Frank had exchanged a 
pair of trousers for a large, black, ringtail 
monkey. He was really more tail than mon- 
key. At first the old man objected to having 
him on board ; but when made to understand 
that Jacko should be fed from our pound and 
pint, and would therefore cost him nothing, 
he allowed the monkey to remain. Jacko 
and the captain were sworn enemies, and many 
a time the old man had applied a rope's end 
while chasing him forward. He seldom went 
abaft the mainmast. It was his delight to be 
around the forecastle and galley catching the 
myriads of cockroaches that swarmed there. 


I have noticed that most Scandinavian and 
Dutch seamen who have but lately left their 
homes have two feather-beds. They sleep 
on one and use the other as a covering. Cap- 
tain Olsen had two feather-beds, and on this 
day had taken advantage of the fine weather 
to give them an airing. Occasionally a few 
drops of tar would fall from the hands of the 
men in the mizzen rigging, so he spread his 
beds on the fife rail around the mainmast, 
out of reach of any falling drops of tar. I 
could not see the beds, but noticed a host of 
feathers ascending and lodging on the freshly 
tarred shrouds and rathnes of the main lower 
rigging. I let go the wheel and took a few 
steps forward on the top of the cabin, and saw 
Jacko pulling the feathers from the old man's 
bed. He had discovered a hole in the tick, 
which he had enlarged till he could get his 
paw inside. 

The mate was forward giving the anchors 
a coat of coal tar, Moses was in the mizzen 
rigging enjoying the fun, and I took an occa- 
sional run from the wheel to watch Jacko in his 
glory. The old man came up while I was away, 
and, when he saw what caused so much laugh- 
ter, gave me the blow on the side of my head. 


Walking forward to the forecastle where 
Jacko had found a refuge, he coaxingly 
called, " Hey, Jacko, boy, hey, Jacko," till he 
was near enouo^h to catch him. Then with a 
pounce he grabbed poor Jacko by the back of 
the neck, got him under the forecastle head, 
dipped him in the tar barrel, and started aft 
with him. 

It was not so easy a task as the captain 
thought. Squealing, squirming, and twisting 
himself about, Jacko managed to get a turn 
with his tail around the captain's neck, be- 
smearing his face and clothes with tar. To 
release himself, he inflicted several blows on 
the monkey's head. Then, opening the bed- 
tick, he jammed Jacko in amongst the remain- 
ing feathers, and, swinging the bed over his 
head, gave it a lively shake. Oh, what fun ! 
I had n't enjoyed anything like it for a long 
time. When Jacko was finally shaken out, 
he resembled a Thanksgiving turkey. At 
four bells the wheel was relieved, and I went 
forward for my tar pot. There I saw Mike 
with a slush pot giving Jacko a bath of grease 
to remove the tar and feathers. By dinner 
time the monkey was himself again, ready, 
if need be, to empty another bed. 


A few more days and old England was 
in sight. I had heard so much about her ; 
now I could see the soil which my Barbadian 
countrymen considered sacred, next to Hea- 
ven. The pilot boarded us as we entered the 
Channel, and the third night after making the 
land, we were crossing the North Sea, leaving 
the Foreland lights astern. We entered the 
river Schelde, and put the Channel pilot ashore 
at Flushing. Taking the river pilot on board, 
we proceeded to Antwerp. With a fair wind 
we moved briskly along, and dropped anchor 
at the quarantine station^ some twenty miles 
from the city. 

No sooner had the doctor left us than fully 
a dozen men from the small boats waiting 
alongside boarded our craft and formed our 
acquaintance. I soon learned that they were 
runners from the sailors' boarding-houses, 
and each man brought a good supply of rum, 
which was readily consumed. I accepted a 
drink from a runner who represented a house 
called the Prince of Wales, which I promised 
to patronize. I remember no more till I awoke 
from my stupor in the sailors' boarding-house. 
I felt somewhat uneasy, but, seeing Mr. Moore 
and the cook near me, regained my usual fear- 


lessness. I then learned tbat the runners 
had furled the sails and docked the ship, so 
that they might be sure of their prey. Late 
in the evening we obtained a few francs from 
Mr. Murphy, the boarding-master, and went 
in search of our other shipmates. Of all 
seaports, there is none more vile and demoral- 
izing than the sailors' district, " the rag," of 

The Prince of Wales was a liquor saloon 
and boarding-house, situated between two 
dance-halls, where seamen caroused all the 
night. Mr. Murphy was proprietor of these 
as well as of the boarding-house. A contin- 
ual stream of humanity of the most degraded 
kind flowed between these places. It was the 
resort of the greater number of the seamen 
entering the port. I stop here. I want to 
cast from my mind the memory of the time 
spent in these places while waiting an of&cial 
discharge from the ship. 

On the third morning Mr. Murphy accom- 
panied us to the British consul's office. The 
place was crowded with boarding-masters, 
runners, tailors, and shoemakers, every one 
of whom had a bill awaiting settlement. As 
soon as each man was paid, these land sharks 


demanded payment of their bills. When a 
bill was repudiated, the reply was that the 
coat or shoes were bought and the money 
loaned while we were drunk. " Where are 
these things ? " " Oh, you lost them, or sold 
them for rum." Mike was the first to ques- 
tion the bills. A blow from his boarding- 
house bully, and the advance of others to 
render this one aid, revealed to us that our 
best policy was to submit to this wholesale 

When we left the consul's office, the men 
had very Httle money. I was in debt to the 
boarding-master. The three pounds two shil- 
lings due me from the Ruby was not sufficient 
to cancel my bills of forty-eight hours. My 
shipmates soon forgot their troubles for that 
night and threw away their few remaining 
francs in the liquor saloon and dance-halls. 
I was then in my sixteenth year. My great- 
est desire was that the seamen should think 
me a full-fledged sailor. With this thought 
in my mind, I joined in the reckless carou- 

A kind-hearted lady once asked me, " Why 
do sailors frequent such places ? " Why ? 
Because the humdrum monotony, the misery, 


and wretched surroundings on shipboard 
create a desire for some excitino; change. The 
restraint of ship discipline is removed. The 
man does not appreciate liberty. Unsuspi- 
cious, and unfamiHar with the ways of a for- 
eign shore, he puts his trust in others, be- 
lieving them to be friends. He is robbed, 
both of soul and body. Why does n't he 
associate with the right kind of people ? Be- 
cause " the right kind of people " will not 
associate with him. He is a stranger to every- 
body, known only as a common sailor, which 
means banishment from respectability. This 
kind-hearted woman of whom I spoke opened 
her doors in welcome to a few respectable 
mariners, and the neighbors threatened to 
move away. Why does n't he attend sailors' 
missions and make his headquarters there? 
Well, in a way sailors do. Missions are not 
what they were twenty years ago. Then they 
were tame and unattractive ; places where 
seamen thought men were made "goody- 
goody." Seamen steered clear of them then. 
To-day the missions have excellent concerts, 
full of healthy fun and frolic, to influence the 
sailor and to satisfy his social nature ; pool 
and billiard tables, games, and a smoking- 


room. All these things are as good there 
as in a bar-room. He meets women of good 
character, who occasionally admit him to the 
sweet, helpful atmosphere of their homes. 
Next to an evening in a Christian home is 
the refining influence of the women workers 
in a seamen's mission. I speak from experi- 
ence. I believe I should still be at sea to- 
day, but for the help given me when a sailor 
in being allowed to visit a Christian home. 
I rejoice that many good people are now 
inviting the seamen who desire to live and 
do better to enjoy an hour of real home life 
with them. 

I remained in the boarding-house for two 
weeks, the target for curses, cuffs, and kicks, 
not only from the boarding-master but from 
the drunken seamen. One afternoon some 
" homeward bounders " came in. They had 
arrived that day from San Francisco on the 
ship Three Brothers. Every attention was 
paid them. I was called on to lend a hand 
in getting their bags upstairs. While try- 
ing to carry a bag much larger than myself 
up the flight, I stumbled, the bag rolled to 
the bottom step, and knocked a half-drunk 
"homeward bounder" over. There was a 


scramble to get at me, but I was out of the 
door and away down the street, leaving my 
clothes behind me. Once free, I resolved 
never to lodge in a sailors' boarding-house 
again, and I have kept my resolution. 

Passing the cathedral^ I noticed a company 
of ladies and gentlemen entering. They were 
conversing in English. I went behind the 
group and with them to the top of the high 
steeple. It was a magnificent view. As far 
as my sight could reach, I could see the dis- 
tant fields and the winding river covered with 
craft of every description. The large granite 
docks seemed near by, as though I could reach 
out and touch the forest of vessels' masts. I 
took advantage of the chance given me to 
escape to the street while the guide continued 
his explanations to the tourists. 

I could speak no Flemish, so wandering 
from street to street, I made a long journey 
before reaching the docks. Then I gazed in 
astonishment at what seemed a floating world, 
— a full-rigged ship, her hull high out of 
water, and her mast towering in the air. I ex- 
amined her rig closely, — five topgallant yards, 
double on the fore and main and single on the 
mizzen, and a main skysail yard which was as 


large as the main topgallant yard of the Euby. 
She seemed a wonder to me. I drew close to 
the stern and read the name, " Hagarstown, 
Richmond." I did not know where Richmond 
was, but could tell by her fine lines and rig 
that she was a " Yank." I had heard stories 
of the brutal treatment of sailors on a " Yan- 
kee deep-water man," and was somewhat 
timid, but necessity compelled me to mount 
the gangway. 

As soon as I spoke to an elderly gentleman 
who was walking the half-deck, my fear and 
timidity were dispelled. I meekly inquired 
if the captain was on board. He kindly re- 
phed, " I 'm the captain. What can I do for 
you ? " He listened attentively to my story, 
then, running his fingers through his hair, 
said, " My boy, stay right here. We sail 
for Philadelphia in the morning. I '11 put 
you on the articles as an ordinary seaman at 
ten dollars a month." The mate, a long, wiry 
gantline, came along just then, and Captain 
Boyd turned me over to him, saying, " Here 's 
an ordinary seaman for you." 

The Hagarstown had been in port several 
weeks. She had brought a cargo of grain 
from San Francisco, and was now loaded with 


empty kerosene oil barrels. The riggers had 
bent the sails, and everything ■v\'as ready for 
our departure. The jib boom was in on the 
forecastle head, and all the head gear seemed 
an inextricable mass. There was a large for- 
ward house on dech. About half of it was 
used for two forecastles, one for each watch. 
The other half was divided into rooms for the 
galley, carpenter shop, donkey engine-room, 
boatswain's locker, and boatswain's room. 
The cabin was large and spacious. A parti- 
tion di^dded it in two, the after part elegantly 
furnished for the ca23tain's use, and the for- 
ward the dining-room. The mate's room was 
at the port and the second mate's at the star- 
board entrance to the cabin. As no work had 
been given me, I passed the time looking the 
ship over. What a size ! I longed for the 
hours to go by, that I might be at sea and 
witness this monster fill her sails and speed 
along. I felt proud of being an ordinary 
seaman on so fine a ship. 

No notice was taken of me till the mate 
spied my antics at the wheel. I was moving 
it back and forth, imagining we were at sea. 
" Put that wheel back amidships, and get 
forward and sweep the fo'c'sles out ! " was 


his command. Forward I went, and swept 
out the two dens, — old worn shoes, tin pots 
and pans, and some well-used donkeys' break- 
fasts left by the last crew. I selected the 
best bed from the lot, and then tumbled the 
accumulated rubbish on the dock. It was 
supper time, and I ate the leavings of the 
cabin, — dainties of several kinds, the most 
enjoyable meal for months. That evening 
the mate, Mr. Montauk, told me that a young 
friend was joining the ship as ordinary sea- 
man. He was to be in his watch, and I in 
the second mate's watch. Knowing this, I 
put the second-hand donkey's breakfast in 
the best top bunk of the starboard forecastle, 
and there passed the night. 

Next morning a shake and a rough, coarse 
voice calling, " Come, get out ! Do you 
think you 're in a hotel ? " made me jump 
from my bunk. It was Mr. Kane, the second 
mate, a " bluenose bucko greaser." He, the 
boatswain, and the carpenter had brought 
their things on board the previous day, but 
had returned on shore, as their duties did not 
begin till the sailing day. They had come on 
board in the night, to be ready to receive the 
crew on their arrival in the morning. 


Breakfast was just over -when the crew 
landed on deck, — eighteen men, a motley 
crowd of all nationalities ; some stupidly 
drunk, others drunk enough to be noisy. 
They came swearing and cursing the board- 
ing-masters, tumbled their " dunnage " on 
board, and lugged it forward to the forecastle. 
I saw Mr. Murphy, my boarding-master, on 
the wharf, — some of the crew were from his 
house ; so I hid myself till we were away from 
the dock. When the last man was forward, 
Mr. Attersley, a red-headed " Yank '* from 
the State of Maine, better known as " bo's'n," 
began to exercise h:s lungs. The first yell I 
thought a thunderclap. Such a voice ! enough 
to raise the crown of my head. It took most 
of his time to get the men from the fore- 
castle. It was the Fourth of July, and they 
were finishing the rum they had brought on 
board. One man seemed to lord it over all 
the rest. He had " cleaned out " the dives 
on shore, and had a fighting record. He 
claimed to be an American from San Fran- 
cisco. While they were on deck getting the 
hawser up from the fore peak, the mate and 
second mate went through their " dunnage " 
and cleaned out the rum. I heard the mate 


say to the boatswain, " Take it easy, bo's'n, 
just humor them. We '11 soon be clear of the 
dock gates." 

I had every opportunity to imbibe with 
the men, but as the drink habit had not yet 
fastened its grip upon me, I refused the liquor. 
I went aft to relieve the man at the wheel, 
who was glad of the chance to go forward. 
There was another large American ship, the 
Patrician, following close behind us. She 
was bound to Australia. On her forecastle 
head, hustled around with the rest of her crew, 
was my old friend, the mate of the Ruby. I 
shouted, " Mr. Moore ! " He saw me, and in 
a drunken, brawling voice replied, " So long. 
King. Rattle his bones all over the stones." 
I heard no more, for he was pushed roughly 
off the forecastle head. All the way through 
the docks these half-crazed creatures had 
things their own way. The large towboat 
had hardly tautened our hawser, when the 
" music " began. It was the time for the 
after end to assert its authority. Every man, 
with the exception of the captain, a quiet, 
fatherly gentleman, who, on seeing I was a 
proficient helmsman, had gone below to trans- 
act some business with a man from shore, 
was keeping step to the waltz. 


The jib boom had to be rigged out, the 
gear set up, and the headsails bent. The first 
man the boatswain tackled was " Frisco," the 
" cock of the walk." It was wonderful hbw 
four men, — the two mates, boatswain, and 
carpenter, — sober and armed with authority 
and belaying-pins, could sail in amongst a 
drunken crowd, and in a few minutes, by 
spilling a few drops of blood, subdue the lot 
and make them " hop light and come a-run- 
ning." I was glad I was a boy, as very little 
attention was paid me. 

It took the greater part of the forenoon 
to get the boom out and everything forward 
straightened out, but it was accomplished 
with cuffs and kicks, mingled with such oaths 
as would make one tremble. By night the 
men were a sore-looking lot. The day's work 
of getting the jib boom out, lashing of spars 
and water casks, cleaning up decks, and get- 
ting secured for sea, with the hot Fourth of 
July sun, had banished all their pugilistic 

I will say, in justice to the deep-water 
American ships of other days, that, although 
I have seen men brutally abused, for no rea- 
son, by some of the cruel " bucko mates," 


whose only delight is to misuse their author- 
ity, it is necessary, at such times as I have 
been describing', to assert authority by means 
of violence. The seamen are partly to blame. 
They come on board under the influence of 
drink, disobedient and obstreperous, and 
thereby compel the officers to force them into 
submission. Generally, the man who is a 
competent sailor, who does his work quickly, 
and impHcitly obeys the officers' commands, 
keeps clear of abuse. I soon learned this 
lesson, and thereby saved myseK many a 

That evening, under a magnificent spread 
of snow-white canvas, the Hagarstown was 
running before a strong east wind, bound out 
the Enghsh Channel. At eight o'clock all 
hands were mustered aft and the men selected 
for the watches. The mate stood on the 
port side and called a man to him, while the 
second mate did the same on the starboard. 
The second mate's watch, which according 
to custom is the captain's, had the eight 
hours on deck. The wheel being relieved 
and the lookout stationed, the port watch 
was told to go below. Now that the men 
were sober, they proved excellent seamen ; 


all except one Joskin, and he was a Belgian 
farmer who had paid a boarding-master a 
small sum for a chance to do a little work, 
and earn his passage to America. He could 
speak no English, but the poor fellow did his 
best to make himself of use. As the mate had 
the first choice in picking the watches, the 
unfortunate Joskin was left for the starboard 

About ten o'clock it began to rain and the 
wind increased. The royals and mizzen top- 
gallant sail were clewed up. Away we went 
to stow them. I started for the mizzen royal, 
which was as much as I could handle. I had 
a hard struggle to get it smothered, but I did 
it. On my way down I expected to find the 
topgallant sail furled. But no, not a man 
had been on the yard. Standing in the cross- 
trees, I heard a groan on the side of the 
doublings. On looking, I saw the Belgian 
seated on the weather side of the crosstrees in 
the throes of seasickness. Mr. Kane was 
bawling and shouting, " Hurry up there with 
that topgallant sail ! " I was a stout, strap- 
ping fellow, but not strong enough to smother 
that sail. I could not make the second mate 
understand, as the howling wind carried my 


voice forward, so down I went and told him 
the Belgian farmer was dying in the cross- 
trees. He called a man, and sent us up to 
furl the sail. 

The wind held its own ; it was a moderate 
gale. A small vessel would have reefed her 
topsails, but we kept on with no further 
shortening of sail. The second mate bawled 
at Joskin to come down, but he remained 
there till eight bells, when Mr. Montauk sent 
up a couple of men to help him. Before we 
reached Philadelphia, the Belgian had faith- 
fully earned his passage. He was kept on 
the move from early to late, scraping and 
pounding iron rust, cleaning and scrubbing 
paint-work, and holystoning decks. 



While tHe Hagarstown was being hauled 
through the docks, the attention of one of the 
sailors was fastened on me. He was a tall, 
raw-boned, kind-hearted Irishman; a thor- 
ough seaman, who, although under the influ- 
ence of the " firewater," did his work and 
conducted himself in a manner satisfactory 
to the officers. He had been an officer on 
American sailing ships, and knew what to 
expect. With two others like himself, he 
kept out of the way while the after end was 
subduing the pugnacity of the forward crowd. 
He was sent aft to get some seizing stuff; and 
standing in the lazaret, his head visible above 
the small hatch coamings, he looked at me so 
closely as to make me uncomfortable. I kept 
moving the wheel, and steered in the wake 
of the towboat. 

" What is your name, boy," he asked. 
" King," I replied. " Where were you 


born?" "In Barbados, in the West In- 

My answers seemed to please him. That 
night he was called by the second mate for 
his watch, and during our first watch on deck 
we became friends. He knew the sailors' 
boarding-house where I had left my clothes, 
and spoke of it as the worst dive in Antwerp. 
When we went below at twelve o'clock, he 
overhauled his bag and fitted me out with a 
dry shift of clothing. During the passage 
my kind friend O'Brien made over some of 
his western ocean wardrobe to fit me. He 
could use a sewing needle as skillfully as he 
could a marline spike ; so with what he gave 
me and the few things I drew from the slop 
chest, I was comfortably suppHed. 

The bad idea that boys were slaves pre- 
vailed on this ship. The ordinary seamen of 
the port watch, like myself in the starboard 
watch, were soon made to understand that the 
dirty work of keeping the forecastles clean 
fell to us, while the men stretched themselves 
out in their pews. Besides this, we were 
expected to trim the oil lamp, bring the food 
from the galley, and return the empty pans 
and kettles. 


I expected to do this menial service all the 
trip across; to take uncomplainingly all ill 
treatment, and to speak only when asked to 
do so, but fortune favored me. On the even- 
ing of the seventh day out, O'Brien told me 
I need not bring the breakfast to the fore- 
castle in the morning. " My boy, you have 
had your spell of flunkyism for us flatfoots. 
To-morrow, I will get the breakfast, and I 
will clean up the fo'c'sle for a week. Every 
man for'ard will take his turn at it, and we 
will be in Philadelphia before your turn 
comes again." 

At seven bells we were called to get our 
breakfast, to be ready at eight o'clock to re- 
lieve the watch on deck. Instead of going 
to the galley for the food, I waited, knowing 
that O'Brien had gone for it. In the forecas- 
tle was a Russian Finn, who struck me on the 
side of the head with the flat of his hand, and 
ordered me to " fetch the grub." O'Brien, 
entering with the pan of cracker hash, was 
just in time to witness the blow. He put the 
pan down, and with one blow felled the Rus- 
sian to the deck. Then standing erect, fiUed 
with anger, he declared that he was " flunky 
for this week, and every mother's son would 


have to take a turn at keeping the fo'c'sle 
clean." Turning to me, he said, " King, if 
any man in this ship imposes on you, let me 
know, and I '11 settle his hash." O'Brien 
proved a friend in many ways. He was my 
protector. He taught me to handle a mar- 
line spike, and had promised to take me 
along to the weather earing of the topsail, if 
an opportunity to reef her down was given. 

We must have been halfway across when 
the tail end of a West Indian hurricane 
reached us. This was the opportunity I had 
longed for. Both watches were on deck to 
get the muslin in. While going aloft I kept 
close to the heels of my friend. With the 
wind howling and screeching through the 
rigging, we reached the main topsail yard. 
Out to the yardarm I followed, and holding 
on to the lift, swung myseK into the Flemish 

Seated astride the end of the yard, bracing 
my body against the lift, I took my first 
lesson in passing a reef earing. The noise 
and shouting of the men " hee-hawing " while 
hauling the sail out to windward was sweet 
music to me. Having turns enough on the 
earing to hold it, O'Brien whispered, " Shout, 


Haul out to lo'ard." Filled with pride, I 
shouted, " Haul out to lo'ard." I could see 
the contemptuous expression on some of the 
men's faces. They thought I was being 
spoiled by O'Brien's kindness, and that he 
allowed me to be " cheeky." The sail was 
reefed, and word came from deck to make it 

The gale was of short duration. The 
heavy force of it lasted about six hours, but 
during that time both watches were kept busy 
getting the upper topsails and mainsail stowed. 
When it began to moderate and the sails were 
set, it was a revelation to hear how much noise 
a few men singing a chorus could make. 

At the topsail halyards Frisco led off the 
first chanty, " Blow the man down." As the 
others joined in the refrain, " Whey, hey, 
blow the man down," they threw the weight 
of their bodies back and joyfully mastheaded 
the yards. Much has been written about 
chanties, and some writers have joined words 
to the music, but I have never heard two men 
use just the same words. The " chanty man " 
leads off, and if he is good at rhyming, will 
make one about the virtues and failings of 
ship and officers. All the men were good at 


Singing and. shouting, so we seldom hauled 
on a halyard, bowline, or sheet without some 
one starting a chanty. Even at the pumps we 
would " suck her out " with " Storm Along," 
a woeful dirge, that runs somewhat after this 
manner : — 

" Stormy is dead, he '11 storm no more. 
To me weigh, hey, storm along ! 
Old storm is dead, he '11 storm no more. 
To me aye, aye, aye, mister, storm along. 

" We '11 dig his grave with a golden spade. 
To me weigh, hey, storm along ! 
We '11 dig his grave with a golden spade. 
To me aye, aye, aye, mister, storm along. 

" We '11 lower him down with a silver chain. 
To me weigh, hey, storm along ! 
We'll lower him down with a silver chain. 
To me aye, aye, aye, mister, storm along." 

One evening when we were just twenty-nine 
days at sea, near the Banks, and although it 
was midsummer the night was cold, my good 
friend came up on the forecastle head where 
I was stationed on the lookout, and wrapped 
his warm pea jacket around me. We walked 
the forecastle deck together. I had often 
wondered why he did so much for me. This 
night we talked of Barbados. He said he 
knew my parents, and related this incident : 


" About three years ago I deserted from an 
Enoflish bark in Barbados. We had broug'ht 
a cargo of general merchandise from London 
and were taking back sugar. There was very 
little to eat, and the old tub was in a wretched 
condition. I sold some of my clothes to the 
negro stevedores for rum. As is always the 
case, ^when rum is in, the man is out.' I 
stowed myseK in a hghter and reached the 
shore. I made for the country when I so- 
bered up, and hid myself in the cane-fields 
till I thought the old bark had sailed away. 
Then I wandered about until I was ragged. 
Not even the negroes noticed me. One day 
I was walking on the white sandy beach ; I 
saw several trees with fruit that looked like 
apples on them. I ate one. It blistered my 
mouth ; the juice blistered my hands ; it got 
into my eyes and blinded me. It was the 
poisonous manchineel berry. It rained, and 
the drops falling from the leaves of the trees 
blistered my body. I should have died, but 
your mother, hearing of my distress, sent out 
her servants and brought me into her house. 
She gave me every care tiU I was able to be 
around. She clothed and fed me and gave 
me a letter to her friend, the American con- 


sul, asking him to aid me in getting another 
ship. Although you have changed a Httle, 
the first day I came aboard I thought I knew 
you. I remembered teUing you stories of the 
sea. It is for her sake, lad, I have befriended 
you. I could not see her son acting as ser- 
vant to any of us. When you write home, 
give my regards to your good mother." 

The first opportunity I had in Philadel- 
phia I wrote home, relating my meeting with 
O'Brien and the kindness he had bestowed 
upon me. In my mother's next and last 
letter to me, she wrote, " Cast thy bread upon 
the waters, for thou shalt find it after many 

When the crew was shipped, an advance 
note of one month's wages was granted each 
man. These notes were kept by the board- 
ing-masters, who took every precaution to 
have the men sail in the ship. Then, at the 
expiration of forty-eight hours after sailing, 
they could get the notes cashed. A donkey's 
breakfast, a pot, pan, and spoon, and a bot- 
tle of rum was the outfit most of the men 
received for their month's advance. The 
Belgian had n't that much. Besides his ad- 
vance note he had paid a small sum of money 


for the privilege of becoming a slave for a 
few weeks. Now that we had been at sea a 
month, every man felt that this, a day of all 
days, was a fresh starting-point in his career. 
Now he began to work for himself ; no longer 
did he toil for the boarding-master. 

I heard the men talk about " burying the 
dead horse," and watched with keen interest 
their work of stuffing the animal. They se- 
cured some old grain sacks which were in the 
fore peak, cut out the figure of a horse, and 
sewed the parts together. Each man gave a 
bit of straw from his donkey's breakfast, 
and this, with some old yarns from the shak- 
ings barrel, they stuffed into the gunny-sack 
horse. Although it would have suggested 
any other animal just as readily, it answered 
the purpose and created the desired merri- 

During the six to eight dog-watch they 
brought forth the beast. Then some kicked 
and others scrambled to get a hit at him. 
This representative of the month's wages 
given to the boarding-masters was hauled up 
on the forecastle head, and here we had the 
fun to ourselves. The men entered so heart- 
ily into the frolic that I would have given the 


boarding-master a month's advance so that, 
like them, the horse might have had a real 
meaning to me. No crowd of schoolboys 
could have appreciated the fun of the hour 
more than they did. 

I cannot remember the words of the trial, 
nor the verdict of the court, nor the sentences 
of the funeral service. I have witnessed a 
few " dead horse " scenes, but have never 
heard the same words. Standing in front 
of the horse with a book in his hands, Frisco 
occasionally rolled his eyeballs upward, and 
in a comical memorized rigmarole expatiated 
on the virtues and failings of the beast. For 
a few minutes he kept the crowd convulsed 
with laughter. When he finished the sentence 
with "So you must die," he struck the stuffed 
horse a blow on the head with a serving-mal- 
let, and began the burial service. After this 
bit of facetiousness, we carried the horse to 
the lee cathead and roared out the chanty, 
" Poor old man, your horse is going to die." 
Frisco, the life of the crowd, and always to 
the front, led off, — 

" Poor old man, your horse is going to die. 
And I say so, and I hope so. 
Oh, poor old man, your horse is going to die. 
Oh, poor old man ! " 


Here are other verses, though my pen can- 
not do justice to the vigor of the rendering. 

" For thirty days we 've ridden him, 
And I say so, and I hope so. 
For thirty days we 've ridden him, 
Oh, poor old man ! 

" When he 's dead we '11 tan his skin, 
A nd I say so, and I hope so. 
When he 's dead we '11 tan his skin. 

Oh, poor old man ! " 

At the conclusion of the chanty he was tossed 
over the rail, and thus ended the celebration 
of the end of the days of toil for the board- 

The food was plentiful and substantial. 
We had splendid hard bread, and a cook who 
could make a variety from the beef, pork, and 
other stores. All sorts of names were applied 
to the difPerent kinds of food. For instance, 
rice was known as " strike me bhnd ; " oat- 
meal porridge, or burgoo, was " stirabout ; " 
molasses was " long- tail sugar ; " salt beef, 
" old junk ; " hard biscuit soaked in pea soup, 
" dog's body ; " this, with a Httle molasses 
added and baked in the oven, was " dandy 
funk." In most ships the same terms are 
familiar to seamen. 


My hands and finger-nails were beginning 
to whiten from the tar of the previous ship 
when the work of tarring down our rigging 
began. What a difference there is in ships ! 
The Hagarstown, unhke the Ruby, had an 
abundance of tar and ship stores. With 
plenty of seizing stuff, the ratlines were 
straightened, and considerable " sailorizing " 
accomphshed. O'Brien took pains to teach 
me, and I learned rapidly from the seizing 
on of a Scotchman to the making of a sword 
mat, a Flemish eye, and a paunch mat. 

We reached the Banks and were enveloped 
in fog for several days. Ever on the alert 
for the sound of a steamer's whistle or the 
toot of a sailing ship's foghorn, all the sail 
the ship could carry was set to hasten her 
through it, and every precaution was taken 
by keeping a bright lookout, and constantly 
sounding the foghorn. 

On one of these nights of fog the starboard 
watch was below. I was awakened by some 
one pounding on the side of the forecastle, 
and a voice at the door yelling, " Get on deck 
and save yourselves." In a moment the watch 
was on deck. The fog was dense. It was 
impossible to see twenty feet ahead. Close 


to US was the white side of a mountain of ice. 
For a moment I held my breath and anxiously 
watched the iceberg fall astern. It was a 
close call. The man at the wheel quickly 
obeyed the order to " starboard your helm," 
which saved us from striking head on to the 
ice. At last we sailed out of the fog, no 
danger having befallen us, and kept on for 
the Delaware Capes. 

Standing off a lee shore in a heavy gale is 
a trying time for the captain of an " ocean 
greyhound," even though he has steam at 
his command to keep his vessel to the wind 
and sea. With a sailing ship it means " carry 
on " and beat your way off, or be dashed 
upon the rocks. Running before an easterly 
gale and a heavy sea, we were in close prox- 
imity to the Capes. It would have been a 
great relief to make the land before dark. 
Failing this meant a beat off the lee shore 
all night. It was a great strain on Captain 
Boyd ; he was compelled to carry on sail and 
drive her through the seas. Every two hours 
the watch was called to tack ship, and then 
ordered to stand by ready for another call. 

The old man was on deck all night, and 
took command in putting her about. " Call 


the watch," " Ready about," a noise and a 
yell, " Get on deck and get her round," 
brought all hands to their stations. It took 
every man to haul the mainsail up. At the 
command, " Main topsail, haul," it seemed as 
though the mast would be wrenched from the 
deck. The violent swing of the yards would 
sway them almost back again before the slack 
of the main braces was hauled in. The gale 
filling her canvas, she would plunge and 
bury herself ; then, trembling and shaking, 
would rise on the crest of another wave. 
There was no room to wear, so all night she 
dove through the boiling seas with lower top- 
gallant sails set, drenching herself fore and 
aft. At daylight a pilot boat hailed us and 
put a pilot on board. We were in sight of 
land. A large ocean tug steamed out and 
bargained with our captain to tow us in. 

At such a time the sailor feels at his best. 
The voyage is drawing to a close, and his 
heart is hght and filled with cheer. Though 
he may have no friends on shore, no one to 
greet and welcome him, still he is happy in 
the expectation of a change, and a run on 
shore with a few dollars to spend. Hand 
over hand the hawser is hauled up on deck 


and paid out to the tug. In a few minutes 
we are aloft like birds in a tree, and each 
watch is doing its best to put a snug harbor 
furl on the sails. 

O'Brien told me he was going to New York 
as soon as he could get what money was due 
him. He advised me to ask the captain's 
permission to remain on the ship ; so I went 
aft and made my desire known to the old 

" Certainly, my boy. Don't leave the ship, 
and when the boarding-house runners come 
aboard, give them a wide berth." This I 

We were a long distance from Philadelphia 
when the " sharks " clambered on board. 
Rum was plentiful, every man was tagged 
for some boarding-house, and when we tied 
up near Chester, where the empty oil barrels 
were to be discharged, the sailors with their 
" dunnage " were tumbled into a tug and car- 
ried to the city. 

The Hagarstown remained at the oil wharf 
for some days, and when we were towed up 
to the city the crew had been discharged. I 
tried to find my good benefactor, but learned 
from Frisco, who was "holding up" the dives 


of Philadelphia, that O'Brien had left for 
New York. 

Captain Boyd was very kind. He allowed 
me to remain on the ship, and when paying 
me my wages, advised me in a fatherly man- 
ner to take care of my money and to keep 
clear of the sailors' district. He promised to 
take me with him to San Francisco, and in- 
tended to put me on the ship's articles on his 
return from a trip " down East." While this 
good friend was on his vacation, Mr. Hans- 
comb, the old watchman, and I had the ship 
to ourselves. All the crew, officers as well 
as seamen, were discharged. The stevedores 
were loading a general cargo for San Fran- 
cisco, and as there was plenty of work a 
strong boy could do, I engaged myself with 
them for fifteen cents an hour. I earned 
enough to buy a snug outfit of shoes and 
clothing, and enjoyed the little I spent while 
visiting the old ship-keeper. 

Mr. Hanscomb and his family were mem- 
bers of a Baptist Church. I attended ser- 
vice with them, and under the influence of 
that good home, resolved to fight against the 
temptations that are put in a sailor's way. 

I wrote home to my mother, telling her of 


the friends I had made. I felt a new spirit 
enter my being. Good influence held me 
back from the downward path for a while. 
When the old man returned, he was pleased 
at Mr. Hanscomb's report of my good be- 
havior, but to my great disappointment Gap- 
tain Boyd told me he was not going on the 
Hagarstown. My hopes were blasted, as I 
had intended asking him to ship me as able 
seaman. I lost all desire to sail on her with- 
out Captain Boyd. Accordingly, next day I 
strolled over to Point Breeze on the Schuyl- 
kill River, and there saw several ships load- 
ing oil. Among these was an American, the 
St. Augustine, of about two thousand tons 
register, loading for Kobe, Japan. 

The stevedores were sliding the cases of 
oil down the hatches. Everybody seemed 
busy. There were two well-dressed men on 
board, who were, I learned, captain and mate. 
I had set my heart on making this trip, so I 
approached, and lifting my hat, inquired if 
the captain was on board. The elder of the 
two rephed, " Yes, I 'm cap'n. What do you 
want ? " I told him, and in a few moments 
was on my way to Mr. Hanscomb with good 
news. I was to make a voyage to Japan with 


Captain Thomas on the American clipper St. 
Augustine. I was to go as ordinary seaman, 
at twelve dollars a month. 

It was not necessary to take my things to 
Point Breeze, as the St. Augustine was to be 
towed to the wharf at the old navy yard 
where the Hagarstown was moored, to get 
her stores and crew on board. I was glad, 
on landing my things on her deck, to be 
told by Mr. Parker, the mate, that I was to 
put them in the boatswain's room, as I was 
to bunk it with him. The St. Augustine was 
much smaller than the Hagarstown. Single 
topgallant sails and no sky sails ; her cabin 
and forecastle were the same, except that in- 
stead of a forecastle for each watch, there was 
a large, undivided space with sixteen bunks in 
it. In a place where ten men could, possibly, 
move with comfort, sixteen were expected to 
eat, sleep, and smoke while they were on board. 

The sailing day came. My life seemed 
full. I had heard of the knowledge in sea- 
manship gained by rounding the Cape of 
Good Hope. Now I was on my way to ac- 
complish such a feat. The boarding-masters 
brought the men down, tumbled them and 
their " dunnage " on deck, and kept a care- 


f ul watch lest any man should leave the ship. 
Three months' advance had been granted the 
crew, and the land sharks intended that none 
of their prey should escape. Some less drunk 
than others helped haul the lines in. The 
towboat took hold of us ; I made for the 
wheel, and steered in the wake of the tug till 
we dropped anchor a few miles down the 
Delaware. Beside the sixteen men forward, 
there were eight others on board, — Captain 
Thomas and Mr. Parker, the mate, a young 
man about twenty-two years old, bright and 
active ; though a mere boy he was a compe- 
tent sailor, and a good boxer and wrestler. 
The second mate was a middle-aged man, who 
abused his authority by constantly cursing 
and swearing at the men. The boatswain 
was a strong Liverpool Irishman, who fought 
all the battles of the ship and made my ex- 
istence wretched. 

Chips, the carpenter, a Norwegian who had 
sailed for years in deep-water American ships, 
was now so Americanized that he delighted 
to apply the term " Dutchmen " to the Scandi- 
navians forward. He considered his position 
of so much importance that it was a conde- 
scension to speak to the men. His rank, Hke 


the boatswain's, was a step from the forecas- 
tle, where they had both lived, so that they 
knew what a sailor's life is. But they were 
the haughtiest and most overbearing of our 
after-superiors. If they gave us a kind word, 
their manner clearly showed it was a voluntary 
descent from their dignity. The cook was 
an old negro. He had his wife with him, a 
bright mulatto, about twenty-five years old. 
She was rather a pleasant-featured woman, 
down on the articles as stewardess. It would 
have been better for him had he left his wife 
in Philadelphia. The ship would have had a 
steward. She could not then have roused his 
jealousy and suspicion. As it was, he was 
made miserable, and through the inconstancy 
of his wife he lost his life. 

There were two bunks in the boatswain's 
room. He took the upper and left me the 
lower. There was a table about two feet 
square in the room, and at it I ate my meals. 
The boatswain, carpenter, and second mate 
ate aft at the second sitting of the cabin table. 

The first night on board, the bulky Liver- 
pool Irishman took a dislike to me. We 
had turned in, but I could not sleep. I 
have heard loud snoring, but none has ever 


equaled in volume the blast of the boat- 
swain's foghorn ! I was restless, and hoping 
that he might change his music to some other 
tune, bumped my knees against the bottom 
of his bunk boards. At last he roused him- 
self, and swore at me for disturbing him. I 
ventured to tell him that his snoring kept 
me awake, whereupon he jumped from his 
bed and inflicted a thrashing which I shall 
never forget. If there had been a chance to 
skip out, I should have done so, but I went 
to bed again, knowing my best plan was to 
keep quiet and submit to this abuse. 

The men were allowed to sleep away their 
dissipation, but at three o'clock next morn- 
ing, sick and fatigued, they were put to work 
filhng the empty water cask on deck from 
the Delaware River. It was cold, and the 
October winds pierced their vitals. Sparks 
began to come from the galley stove-pipe, and 
at five o'clock old Wilson, the cook, served 
hot black coffee. Why do I say " black cof- 
fee " ? I have never seen any other kind 
served to seamen ; generally, it is sweetened 
with molasses, which gives it the flavor of a 
quack " blood and nerve tonic." Now came 
the word, " Man the windlass." Up and 


down went the windlass brakes; the hot 
drink gave new life to the men. One, with 
a voice like a bull of Bashan, led off with 
the chanty, " Sally Brown." * Although wet 
and uncomfortable, the others, Hke true 
" shell-backs," joined heartily in the chorus. 
The clank of the pauls sounded clear and 
distinct between the chorus and the song of 
the chanty-man. As one finished another 
man would start a different chanty : " Poor 
Paddy works on the railroad ; " " We 're all 
bound to go," till the mate shouted, " She 's 
short, sir." 

Now was the time for Mr. Williams to give 
free play to his vile vocabulary, and for the 

1 " Sally Brown was a Creole lady, 
Weigh, aye, roll and go ! 
Sally Browu was a Creole lady, 
Spend my money on Sally Brown. 

** Seven long years I courted Sally, 
Weigh, aye, roll and go ! 
Seven long years and she would not marry, 
Spend my money on Sally Brown. 

" Sally Brown, I now must leave you, 
Weigh, aye, roll and go ! 
And do not let this parting grieve you. 
Spend my money on Sally BrownP 

(And so ad infinitum.') 


boatswain to exercise his strength. Curses 
were heaped on the men loosing the sails, 
while a constant uproar was taking place on 
deck. The riggers had rove the running rig- 
ging through the wrong fair-leads, which eh- 
cited a blessing from Mr. Williams on every 
man that ever handled a rope. The topsails 
set, the strong tide and wind in our favor, we 
started the anchor from the mud and headed 
for the open sea on our way to Japan. 



The first day out was spent in securing 
every movable thing on deck, stowing away 
hawsers, and cleaning up the ship from the 
wretched condition in which the stevedores 
had placed her during her stay in port. That 
evening there was not much choice for the 
mates in making up the watches, for every 
man forward had proved himself a compe- 
tent seaman. 

" Portuguese Joe," a native of Peru, a 
man almost as round as a ball, was the only 
small one among them. The others were 
strong, well-built, robust fellows. These six- 
teen men were representatives of half the 
globe ; for besides " Portuguese Joe," there 
were two Norwegians, one Hollander, a 
Swede, one Frenchman, three Germans, two 
each from England, Ireland, and Scotland, 
and Chris, a native of Denmark. In selecting 
the watches, the mate had given an equal 


number of Anglo-Saxons to each. Joe was 
unfortunately placed in Mr. Williams's watch. 
I was in the mate's, under the eye of my evil 
genius, the boatswain. He was my room-mate 
below and my master on deck ; indeed, my 
only relief from his presence was when he was 
snoring in his bunk. After a few watches be- 
low I became accustomed to the rasping noise 
of his nasal organ, and could fall asleep ; but 
I cursed the luck which put me in his room. 
Far easier would my lot have been in the 
forecastle. I was told never to mingle with 
the men forward except when on duty. As I 
wanted to know more about the crew, I would 
watch my opportunity to steal forward, listen 
to their yarns, and become better acquainted. 
" Different ships, different fashions," as 
Paddy said, when he rove the fore sheet 
through the lee scupper. On my other trips 
I had been in the forecastle and envied the 
after-end. Now I was between the two and 
would have changed to either gladly. On the 
other ships my stay had been so short that I 
had taken httle interest in the crew, but now, 
unless some accident should befall me, I was 
in for a year's voyage. I should cross " the 
line " four times, round the Cape twice, and 

A "HOT" SHIP 161 

be a seasoned deep-water sailor on my re- 

Although we had signed the articles with 
its scale of provisions, we were not confined 
to that. Old Wilson could make a dish of 
anything. He was kind-hearted, and took a 
delio-ht in seeing; the men satisfied. As long; 
as the potatoes lasted we had a portion, " duff " 
twice a week, and canned beef on Sundays. 
No one complained while Wilson was aUve. 

In the Gulf Stream we encountered a gale 
which kept us hove to under reefed topsails 
and foresail for four days. The fore topsail 
was well worn. As it felt the force of the 
gale, it started at the head and whipped itself 
into ribbons. All that was saved were the 
pieces that had wrapped themselves around 
the mast and topmost rigging. The seas 
flooded the deck, and some of our water casks 
were washed from their lashings and swept 
over the rail. Though it was no easy matter 
to haul a topsail along the deck and get it 
aloft at such a time, yet we did it. 

There was a suit of sails in the lazaret. A 
topsail was hauled up, taken into the forward 
cabin, spread out, and reefed ready for bend- 
ing. Head and reef earings, rovings, and 


clews clear, we tugged the long roll of canvas 
on our shoulders, sliding from side to side till 
we got it forward. Then, bending on the 
end of the gantline, which had been rove for 
this purpose, we hoisted it aloft, abaft the 
yards, guying it out to windward. The mate 
remained on deck to slack away, while both 
watches, with Mr. Williams and the boat- 
swain, bent and reefed it. 

The heat of the lazaret and the work of 
hauling the topsail caused the perspiration to 
flow freely. Oilskins were discarded, and we 
were wet through with the salt spray. Be- 
fore we started aloft, a roaming wave left its 
turbulent head on our deck, and for a mo- 
ment it seemed as though we were in the surf 
at a seaside resort. Up we went, dripping 
wet, and mounted the " rocking horse." Jack 
was next to me. Together we passed the 
weather earing and shouted, " Haul out to lo'- 
ard." Oh, how delightful ! Seated on the 
yardarm, I could see the heavy seas tumble 
against the ship, the running rigging flying 
loose and curving like coach whips. The 
whole scene aloft and below was wild and 

We were fully four hours bending the top- 


A "HOT" SHIP 163 

sail. During this time the men were grind- 
ing away on their tobacco. Those on the lee 
yardarm could enjoy their weed ; they could 
let fly the juice and watch it safely pass to 
leeward. Not so with us on the weather 
yardarm. We must watch our opportunity 
to spit in the sail when Mr. Williams was not 
lookinsf. Or we mio^ht bend our heads under 
the yard and hope a back draft would not 
lift it to windward and drive it into some 
fellow's face. A spatter of tobacco juice fell 
full on the second mate's face. Immediately 
he opened his dictionary and put his vocab- 
ulary to use. Now most seafaring men use 
tobacco. I suppose they would chew less if 
they were allowed to smoke when they felt 
like it ; but it is a great breach of discipline 
for a sailor to smoke while working, so they 
form the chewing habit, which they can in- 
dulo^e in while on deck. 

No greater blessing is bestowed on a sailor 
than his pipe. It makes him forget his cares, 
breaks the humdrum monotony, keeps him 
from mischief, and helps him build castles in 
the air. Why, then, deprive him of it ? I 
know there are times when it is inconvenient 
to have a pipe in one's mouth, but is it any 


more disrespectful, or will it lessen ship dis- 
cipline any more, than having a mouth full of 
the weed ? I think not. The best-natured 
seaman becomes a grumbler when in need of 
tobacco, and a ship short of it is a very un- 
comfortable place in which to dwell. I have 
seen old salts dry their old " chews " and 
smoke them ; yes, smoke dried coffee-grounds 
and tea-leaves. 

After the gale, a few rousing chanties made 
the work of spreading the muslin an easy 
matter, and we were "by the wind" in the 
northeast " trades." 

Many people think sailors have nothing to 
do but watch the ship sail along, except in 
stormy weather when they are forced to work 
the sails. Can a housekeeper find work to 
do in a home which is properly looked after ? 
So in a ship. No matter how long the voy- 
age may be, there is always some work to be 
done. What with cleaning paint-work, pre- 
serving the rigging from being chafed, scrap- 
ing the bright woodwork, and pounding iron 
rust, a good mate is never in need of some- 
thing for his men to do. Watch and watch 
we were kept busy doing things, both neces- 
sary and unnecessary. 

A "HOT" SHIP 165 

At night, as the men came on deck, both 
watches mustered aft and were counted by 
the boatswain. 

" Keheve the wheel and lookout, and keep 
on your pegs by the main hatch." There 
were many nights when the watch on deck 
could have dozed on the main hatch with per- 
fect safety. But no, it meant the loss of an 
afternoon's watch below to be caught nap- 
ping while on deck. " Portuguese Joe " found 
it a hard matter to keep awake on a fine night. 
Mr. Wilhams caught him napping, and made 
him take the canvas draw-bucket, haul water, 
and throw it over himself. Could he have 
resented ? Yes, he did ; but the " greaser " 
was too much for him Why did n't the 
other men help him ? They knew it was best 
not to kick against the supreme authority of 
the after-end. Least said, soonest mended is 
a safe motto aboard ship, as there is no unity 
in so mixed a crowd. 

I grew fat on the kicks of the boatswain 
rousing me from stolen naps on deck. Some- 
how, the more I tried to keep awake, the 
more drowsy did I become. The one method 
used by the boatswain which kept me awake 
was to break the stops of the bunthnes, and 


to glory in his spite while I was climbing 
from yard to yard overhauling and stopping 
them again. 

Our yards were painted black. Scrapers 
were made from old knives, the grindstone 
brought on deck, and every man called on to 
use his sheath knife to scrape the paint from 
them. As soon as the watch came on deck 
it was, " Perch yourself aloft and get at the 
scraping." This work lasted for several 
weeks. The ordinary scraping of mast and 
yards is tiresome, but to remove a thick coat 
of paint from a pitch-pine stick is tedious and 
wearisome to the fullest extent. Even when 
the paint is off, there must be another scrap- 
ing to make it bright and clean. 

For days and days we were by the wind. 
When we entered the "trades," great was the 
old man's disgust. Driven to the southward 
and westward, we edged along to the Brazil- 
ian coast. The compass might have been 
over the side for all the use it was to the man 
at the wheel. Our guide was the clew of the 
mizzen royal. The yards braced sharp up, 
the course was full and by. At the close of 
the two hours' trick at the wheel my neck 
would be stiff from the constant upward gaze 
at the sail. 

A "HOT" SHIP 167 

When we drew near the equator, the 
scraping had to be stopped. The trade-wind 
squalls were frequent and severe, and gave us 
a steady drill in taking in the light sails and 
setting them again. With the squall there 
came a downpour of rain, so that we filled 
our cask from the water falling from the 
roof of the cabin. Though the scuppers were 
free, still it poured upon us faster than it 
could leave the deck. 

Leaving us ankle-deep in rain water, hardly 
a breath of air stirring, the force of the squall 
passed, and over our heads the sails flapped 
against the mast. As the ship rolled, the 
wash of the water tumbling from side to 
side felt as though we were standing in the 
stream of a fast-flowing river. This was a 
tropical shower; it seemed as if the ocean 
were over us, and the bottom had fallen out. 

Water-spouts were visible at the horizon. 
These dangerous funnel-shaped black clouds 
emptied themselves upon us. Two of the 
monsters crossed our bows less than haK a 
mile away. We could see the whirlpool and 
upheaval of the water, as they swept along 
trailing their tapering stem, fiUing the mighty 
reservoir above. 


Our old man was grumbling and discon- 
tented. We were now nearing the close of 
our second month, and had barely crossed the 
line ; but a change came, and we bowled 
along " full and by " through the horse lati- 
tudes with a stiff southeast trade wind. The 
work of scraping was resumed. While on the 
fore topsail yard, I noticed what seemed to be 
a black cloud to leeward which I concluded 
to be land. I shouted, " Land, ho." " Where 
away," yelled the boatswain. " About two 
points on the lee bow." The old man, hear- 
ing the shout, came on deck. He was frantic 
when he saw the mountain-peaked, church- 
steepled island of Fernando Noronha block- 
ing his headway. It was " ready about " and 
beat our way clear of land. 

The chronometer was " out," as the pre- 
vious day's reckoning had made the ship one 
hundred and sixty miles to the east of this 
Brazihan convict island, We kept twenty- 
four hours on the starboard tack, which en- 
abled us to weather it. Still there was an 
uncertainty which worried Captain Thomas. 
He was not sure of weathering Cape St. 
E-oque. Keeping the yards pointed sharp to 
the wind, we cleared the cape and bowled 
along to the southward. 

A "HOT" SHIP 169 

One afternoon we were surrounded by a 
school of bonitos. These creatures feed upon 
flying-fish and squid, and dehght to follow a 
ship, gamboling around her bows and dart- 
ing in and out around the cutwater. 

The mate was soon seated on the jib-boom 
end with a line and gunny sack, ready to haul 
them in. We were sailing fast, which aided 
him in his fishing. With a bit of white rag 
on his hook, the Hue curved out by the force 
of the wind dragging well to leeward, Mr. 
Parker kept us busy passing in the bonitos 
and dumping them on deck. Our headway 
was too swift for the bonitos to study the ap- 
pearance of the bait, so as it skimmed along 
on the crest of the water they would think it 
a flying-fish and nab it. Although not large, 
— I suppose about eighteen inches long, and 
weighing from twenty to thirty pounds, — it 
took a skilled man to haul them up to the 
boom. It was a splendid pastime, a feverish 
excitement. Standing on the forecastle head 
we could feel the ship tremble with the jerk- 
ing of the fish on the line. The forward end 
of the ship was besmeared with blood. We 
did n't mind that, for the fun was immense, 
and the expectation of a feed of fried fish 


fully compensated for the work of washing 

That evening old Wilson cooked enough 
bonitos to satisfy all hands, and a delightful 
meal it was. Next morning our disappoint- 
ment was great when our breakfast was the 
usual " lobscouse." We had pickled a barrel 
of the fish, but in that moist atmosphere they 
did not take the brine. They were putrid, 
filled with maggots, and had to be tossed 
over the side. 

The day came at last when we could check 
in our yards. With a fair wind from the west- 
ward we steered a course to the southward 
and eastward. As we crept along south, the 
wind gradually increased. We sighted the 
towering mass of Tristan d'Acunha far above 
the clouds. Here the ocean was covered with 
long patches of kelp, and their cable-like 
stems heaving in the restless sea made the 
rolling waves look like the furrows of a newly 
ploughed field. Here the westerly wind gath- 
ered in force and volume, and settled into a 
gale which lasted quite as long as we wanted 
it. For three weeks we ran before it with 
square yards till we reached the island of St. 
Paul. I suppose it is blowing a westerly gale 

A "HOT" SHIP 171 

there now. There was no let up ; we sailed 
out of it when we shaped our course to the 
northward from St. Paul. 

Day and night we ran our longitude down 
under our topsails and foresail, covering be- 
tween two hundred and fifty and three hun- 
dred miles each day. Spreading the snowy 
foam from her bows like an open sheet, 
she glided fishlike through the sea. When 
abreast of the Cape, it seemed as if the " old 
gal " would roll herself over, for, burying the 
rail at each roll, she scooped up the sea and 
flooded the decks. It was dangerous as well 
as uncomfortable to get forward or aft. One 
had to await a favorable opportunity and then 
wade through the foaming lather. At times 
a heavy rolling sea would overtake us and 
dash on our poop-deck. We managed to get 
some of the cases of oil from the fore hatch. 
Piercing holes in the cans, we hung them over 
the taffrail where the oil might drip in her 
boiling wake. In the hollows of the waves 
the albatross and cape pigeons could be seen. 
Disturbed by us in our mad rush, up they 
would fly, to return to rest again after we had 

One morning I went below at four o'clock j 


the port watch had the eight hours in. I 
found the boatswain's room afloat. A sea 
had rolled in, and the wash of the water was 
making havoc of everything except the bed in 
the top bunk. My clothes and bed were wet. 
The boatswain turned in, and left me to clear 
up the wreck. I sneaked forward to the fore- 
castle and climbed into a top bunk belong- 
ing to Peter, one of the Norwegians. I must 
have been asleep about an hour, when I felt 
a wet hand on my ankle, and without a word 
of warning, I was dragged from the bunk 
and kicked and cuffed by the second mate 
till I reached the cabin door. Opening the 
door of his room, he told me to use his bed 
rather than one in the forecastle. 

" Don't you ever let me catch you there. 
If your bed is wet, use mine." 

Between the rolls of the ship old Wilson 
waded aft, and invited me forward to his 
room, which was partitioned off from the gal- 
ley, where I was soon fast asleep between his 
warm, comfortable blankets. Then this kind- 
hearted negro mo23ped up the boatswain's 
room and hung my wet clothes by his galley 
fire to dry. 

For several days we had been drinking the 

A "HOT" SHIP 173 

vilest kind of water. We had not yet opened 
the iron tank between decks, and the casks 
were filled with rain water, which had become 
putrid, alive with animal matter, and emitted 
a disgusting odor. The men complained and 
the big tank was tapped for our use. Rain 
water, when barreled up, will become rotten, 
but after some time will regain its freshness 
and be excellent for drinking. It will rot 
twice over, and each time it is sweeter for 
the change. While undergoing this process, 
it will breed swarms of mosquitoes. 

Each day to the northward brought us into 
better weather. The sunshine and warmth 
gave us new life and energy. Our clothes 
were white, and the decks and rigging were 
bleached, with salt. In two weeks we had 
forgotten all about the gales of the southern 
latitudes, and were basking in the tropical 
sun in sight of Sandalwood Island. We were 
now sailing through miles of floating pumice 
stone, which had been ejected from the vol- 
canic islands in the Indian Ocean. Worse luck 
for us, the mate had us scoop up fully half a 
ton, and between the squalls of the " trades " 
and the bad weather in the China Sea, we 
were ever pumice-stoning the paint-work. 


Although Barbados is known as the only- 
regular flying-fishery in the world, I think 
the natives of Sandalwood Island might com- 
pete with them. I have seen swarms of these 
fish flying from the jaws of the dolphin and 
bonito, but never so numerous as they were 
here. The flying-fish leaves the water with 
such force that with one prolonged leap it 
skims and skips along the surface. I have 
seen it stated that they do not fly. My native 
fishermen say they do. I have seen a swarm 
headed for our ship, and as they drew near 
they have turned at right angles out of the 

In Barbados the natives live on flying-fish 
six months of the year. I have seen the mar- 
ket filled with them, and at a late hour in 
the evening they are sold fifty for a penny, 
although usually the price is a penny for two 
or three. Ice is a scarce luxury, and as the 
fish will not keep till the next day, the negro 
fisherman gladly disposes of them for any 
sum. A half-dozen fish will make a hearty 
meal for a fair-sized family. 

The fishermen start out at dawn and reach 
the grounds before the sun is high. With 
mast unstepped they cast decayed fish over- 

A "HOT" SHIP 175 

board, and while the flying-fish are feeding 
they scoop them in with circular nets of 
small mesh stretched on wooden hoops. The 
largest kind (the Guineaman) are caught with 
hook and line. Occasionally, at night, a fly- 
ing-fish will fly on board, in the tropics. 
Once, as punishment for sleeping during my 
watch on deck, I had to spend an afternoon's 
watch below over the side in a bowline, scrap- 
ing the scales and brains of the flying-fish 
from the black painted side of the ship. 
Often I have watched them skim through 
the air, skip along for about two hundred 
yards, and then seen the splash of the dol- 
phin that had traveled as fast as they and was 
ready to receive them. Then making another 
leap, away they would dart, only dropping 
when the drying of the wing membrane com- 
pelled them. 

Within a week after sinking Sandalwood 
we raised the island of Timor. The space 
between these two islands must be the home 
of the porpoise. All day in their clownish 
fashion they rolled and tumbled around the 
bow. A snatch block was hung at the end 
of the bowsprit, a line rove through it, and 
then bent on to the harpoon. At first the 


mate did the harpooning, but soon grew tired 
of it. 

With a strap securing him to the martin- 
gale, a man would stand on the back ropes, 
and with harpoon ready, await the opportu- 
nity to stick them. In a little while the har- 
poon would be raised, the point following the 
track of a rising porpoise till its back was 
clear of the water. Then the iron fell, and 
hand over hand we lifted the struggling pig 
to the boom. Then bending on a rope's end, 
we hauled him on board as another man 
slacked away on the harpoon line. Many 
times we hauled these kicking, trembhng sea- 
pigs on deck. Occasionally a porpoise would 
tear himself from the harpoon and faU back 
into the sea, streaming with blood. I am 
told that the others chase and devour him in 
his weakness. This may be so, but it is a 
fact that when a wounded porpoise falls from 
a harpoon, the whole school disappears for a 

The blubber was boiled, and we all had oil 
enough to grease our sea boots. " Chips " 
had what he wanted to oil his tools, and 
some to spare for the donkey engine. The 
beef was fine. We cut it in flakes and spread 

A "HOT" SHIP 177 

it out in the sun to dry. It was a treat, after 
being at sea so long, to have so plentiful a 
supply of fresh meat. 

Several days after, the dried meat made as 
delicious a dish as one could desire. The 
longer it is kept, unlike any other fish, the 
more tender and sweet it becomes. Any 
man, even though it was his watch on deck, 
was allowed to pin a porpoise, as when they 
were on board the harness cask was kept 
locked and unused. 

We passed Timor and entered the Gilolo 
Passage. For days we were becalmed, sur- 
rounded on all sides by islands. For over a 
month we tried to get through into the open 
Pacific. The old man grew impatient and 
irritable ; his only rehef was to keep box-haul- 
ing the yards around, and trying to make a 
breeze where there was none. It was a con- 
tinual "Haul on this" and "Take a drag" 
on the other thing. Every effort was made 
to take advantage of the least puff of wind. 

We had been told these islands were in- 
habited by cannibals. One afternoon a canoe 
full of black natives paddled to us. They 
came shouting and bawHng, the outrigger of 
the " dug-out " trailing in the water, and 


stopped about fifty feet away. The old man 
had his rifle, the mate a revolver, while we 
were armed with knives to defend ourselves. 
But instead of coming to eat us, as we had 
supposed, they had shells and matted material 
to exchange for tobacco. The captain had 
to coax them to come alongside. Hideous- 
looking mortals they were, naked, and with 
skins streaked and rough, like alligators, 
where the sun had dried the salt water on 
them. They would not come on board, but 
holding on to a rope's end, showed us their 
curiosities, and shouted, " Tobac, tobac." 
Mr. Parker descended to the canoe, and in ex- 
change for a few pounds of tobacco, emptied 
it of its contents. 

The ship's slop chest was stocked with 
high-priced " dog's wool and oakum," cloth- 
ing, soap, matches, and tobacco, every article 
costing about twice its market value. Now 
tobacco was a dollar and a half a pound, yet 
this high price did not hinder us from nego- 
tiating with the blacks for their useless curi- 
osities. A light breeze was carrying us along 
about four knots, so the mate climbed up the 
rope ladder, and the blacks paddled for their 
native soil. 

A "HOT" SHIP 179 

While sailing between these islands we 
caught several large albieores, weighing be- 
tween forty and fifty pounds each. We 
salted and hung them under the boat skids. 
They were good eating, but where they were 
hung to dry, the full moon shone on them. 
A few days after, we had albicore for din- 
ner. I ate heartily, and within an hour was 
suffering with a violent headache. For over 
twenty-four hours after that I was uncon- 
scious. My head was swollen. When I re- 
gained consciousness, I learned that like 
myself, half of the crew had been poisoned 
by the fish. 

The full moon of the tropics makes the 
night almost as bright as day. I remember 
reading " Barnaby Rudge " by moonlight 
during my watch on deck. Men dare not 
sleep in its glare, for it will distort the fea- 
tures and blind the eyes, so powerful is its 

That experience guarded me more than 
once. Not only was I careful after that 
never to hang fish or meat where the moon 
could shine on it, but I also was sure to keep 
my face covered when stealing a nap on a 
moonlit deck. 

'kound the cape 

Mrs. Martha Wilson, the stewardess, 
was a woman who feared no man. She 
could defend herself. Once she happened 
to hear a sailor speak of her as "Dinah." 
For this impudence she roUed up her sleeves 
and thrashed him. At times she was very 
religious ; then she was greatly pleased if we 
joined in the refrain of her favorite song, 
" I 'se gwine for to walk the narrow road, 
and I want you all for to follow me." Old 
Wilson stood in fear of her. So she did as 
she pleased, and her will was law. While 
we all spoke of her as " Dinah," no one 
dared address her except as " Mrs. Wilson," 
or " Stewardess." 

On leaving Philadelphia she slept in her 
husband's room, but when we sailed into 
warm weather she grumbled and complained 
about the heat of the galley, and expressed 
a desire to have one of the staterooms in the 


forward cabin for her own. Captain Thomas 
consented to the change, hut old Wilson 
tried every means to keep her forward with 
him. For peace' sake he finally yielded, and 
Dinah shifted her traps aft. She became 
warm friends with Mr. Parker. Together 
they walked the deck evenings, thereby 
arousing her husband's jealousy. 

Early one morning, as we were emerging 
from the Gilolo Passage, the cook walked aft 
and listened at the window of his wife's state- 
room. In a few moments, crazy with rage, 
he was clinched in strife with the mate. The 
boatswain came to the latter's aid. Together 
they put handcuffs on Wilson, and hooking 
a " handy billy " to a strap on the mizzen 
stay, they then hooked on to the hand-irons, 
and lifted him clear of the deck. They kept 
him there till he was unconscious, when they 
lowered him. In less than an hour he was 
dead. The verdict was that Wilson died of 
heart disease. Captain Thomas was very 
much disturbed. 

The following day the body was sewn in 
canvas, with bits of old iron placed at the 
feet. The main yard was hove aback, and 
the old cook was launched into the deep. I 


looked over the side and watched the white 
canvas bubble and sink in the clear transpar- 
ent water, till it disappeared under the bot- 
tom of the ship. 

" Brace up the main yard ! " Away we 
headed on our course for Japan. There was 
much talk about the death of the cook, but 
no man dare openly give his opinion of the 
matter. Dinah seemed to be happy. Her 
husband's death was evidently of no conse- 
quence to her. 

That afternoon I was standing by the main 
hatch when Captain Thomas shouted from 
the cabin door, " Harry, come aft here." It 
disturbed me when he said I was to help the 
stewardess in her work till we reached Japan. 
The boatswain was cruel, but I was used to 
his ill-treatment. But not knowing how to 
frame an excuse, I stood still and looked at 
the old man. 

" Well, what 's the matter with you ? " 
" Please, sir, don't send me into the galley 
with the stewardess." 

" Get for'ard, and do what I say." 
I put on my best rig and reported to Dinah 
for duty. For two weeks I was her orderly. 
It was " Harry do this and that," till I was 


tired of being ordered about by this woman. 
One afternoon Dinah started to fill two small 
jugs with yeast. She was on deck near the 
galley door, and I was in the galley. In 
a very domineering tone she said, " Harry, 
go aft and get me the corkscrew from the 
pantry. I want to draw this cork." 

I looked at her, and then replied, " Get 
aft and get it yourself." 

The words were hardly out of my mouth 
when the full jug of yeast came tumbling at 
me. I dodged it. It struck the stove and 
broke in pieces. The yeast spilled all over 
the brick-paved floor of the galley. Dinah 
rushed at me, screaming, scratching, and bit- 
ing. We rolled over and over in the yeast, 
for it was impossible to get a footing. I was 
a strong lad, but no match for this tigress. 

I shouted, " Help ! Murder ! Come to me ! " 
The second mate, the carpenter, and three 
seamen came to my assistance. It took all 
their strength to release me from her em- 
brace. Bleeding and crying, I ran to the old 
man, who, hearing the rumpus, had just come 
on deck. 

" Oh, cap'n," I cried, " I can't stand this 
any longer, sir ! " 


" Dry your tears, my boy. Go for'ard and 
clean yourself. You have done very well. 
You 've stood it longer than I thought you 
would. You deserve a leather medal, and 
I '11 cut one out for you in the morning. Go 

Then he turned to Dinah, who had been 
roughly handled by the men. They hated 
her, and had used the chance to get in a few 
sly knocks. " I 've had enough of your hum- 
bug. Go to your room, and never let me see 
you for'ard of the mainmast, or on deck at 
all after sunset." So she was subdued, and 
kept confined to her room. Bill was made 
cook, and I steward ; a fine team. We had 
ample opportunities to play tricks on Dinah, 
and I availed myself of them. But she be- 
haved as she should, and in less than twenty- 
four hours after we had reached Japan, was 
on her way to San Francisco, via Yokohama. 

Old Wilson was sadly missed. We were 
now in our fifth month at sea. Dinah had 
not taken the same interest as her husband 
in making the most of a little, and neither 
Bill nor I knew how. The duff was heavy, 
the food poorly cooked, and everybody 
grumpy and discontented. 


To stiffen the ship, the stevedores had 
stowed two hundred tons of coal under the 
oil cases. Now our supply was nearly gone, 
so it was necessary to move the cargo that 
the coal-bins might be replenished. We 
began the tedious and ungainly work of 
passing the cases of oil up the lazaret hatch. 
Only one man could work in the hatch, so 
we labored two days before the coal was 
reached. Then we hauled it up in buckets, 
and filled the bins on deck. 

To force the ship along, a " bull ringer " 
was rigged. 

This is the only time I have seen such a 
sail used. A spare staysail was set under the 
lee of the jib boom. The head was hauled 
out to the boom end, the tack to the lee cat- 
head, and the sheet to the end of the martin- 
gale. This sail may have helped our pro- 
gress, but it certainly was a nuisance, for at 
every squall it required the whole watch to 
take it in. At last all hands had to be called 
to get it inboard. In diving, she had filled 
it with water, and to save the boom, the 
sheet and outhaul were let go, and the sail 
trailed under the lee bow till we could haul 
it aboard. 


We were favored with a strong monsoon, 
and so ploughed our way along through the 
China Sea. Scurvy began to show itself. 
" Portuguese Joe " was the first victim. He 
was in a miserable state. His teeth were 
loosened from his soft, spongy gums. He 
could press his finger into the flesh of his 
limbs and leave an indentation as though in 
a lump of dough. Although exhausted, 
weary, and fit only for his bunk, the cruel 
second mate forced him to keep the night 

Nearly all the men were in misery with 
salt water boils. At twelve o'clock each day 
the captain mustered all hands aft and served 
a drink of lime juice to us, to check the 
scurvy. Discontent was supreme, but at last, 
after a wearisome passage of one hundred 
and sixty-seven days, we dropped anchor in 
the harbor of Kobe. Labor is cheap here, 
so the Japs were engaged to work the cargo 
while we were busy scraping the black paint 
off the hull. The first trip the old man 
made on shore he brought back a Japanese 
steward and a Chinese cook, and with a good 
supply of fresh beef and potatoes, the ill-will 
of the men vanished. 


Dinali left without a parting farewell. She 
was taken in a sampan and placed on the 
mail steamer for Yokohama, on her way to 
San Francisco. 

The first Saturday night in port the men 
went aft to demand liberty. The mate said 
the captain was on shore, but that he intended 
giving the port watch liberty till Monday 
morning. They were advised to await his 
return, so that they might have some money 
to spend. Seven o'clock came and went. 
There were no signs of the old man's return, 
and their patience was exhausted. They went 
aft and asked leave to go without the money. 
The mate consented, and two sampans were 
hailed. Taking it for granted that I was to 
have my liberty with the port watch, I partly 
secreted myself in the sampan, and we were 
sculled to the shore. 

Previous to this, the captain had agreed to 
allow each man to incur a debt of fifteen dol- 
lars with a clothing merchant in Kobe. As 
we landed, hordes of Japanese men gathered 
round us, pulling at us and shouting, " Takee 
me jinrikisha." They knew where this mer- 
chant lived, and hurriedly pulled us in their 
perambulators to his store. We stormed the 


place, and threatened not to purchase one 
cent's worth of clothing unless he advanced 
us some money. After much pressure he 
gave us five dollars each, and had us sign 
our names on his books, as having bought 
seven dollars' worth of clothing from him. 

Now was shown the fallacy of keeping me 
away from the forecastle. Not allowed to 
mingle with the men in their quarters on 
board, here was I, in a strange place, without 
a cent in my pocket, allowed to go and do as 
I pleased. For although I had left the ship 
stealthily, both the mate and second mate 
noticed me when the sampan shoved off, and 
they could easily have intercepted us and 
made me return on board. Naturally I kept 
with the men, and, like the others, hired a 
jinrikisha. Kobe, although in the far East, 
is poisoned like every seaport by the presence 
of some Ano^lo-Saxon who establishes him- 
self as a liquor-dealer. There was an old 
American man-of-war's man who kept a rum- 
shop, and dared to insult his country by nam- 
ing the vile den the " American Eagle." The 
jinrikisha men knew their business, and were 
familiar with the work of hauling sailors 
through the city. Therefore, they headed 
for Tom Kelly's dive. 


Mrs. Kelly was a Japanese woman, and 
both she and her husband welcomed us. 
Here we met the crew of an English square- 
rigger, the Undaunted of Glasgow. At first 
we were as friendly as brothers, but after the 
drinks began to take effect, the crews settled 
an argument on the battle of Bunker Hill 
by fighting it over again. Tom Kelly was 
an ex-pugilist. He joined in, and for a few 
moments blood was as plentiful as the hquor 
behind the bar. 

We became separated in the fracas. My 
Jap hustled me into the jinrikisha, and away 
he dragged me through the lower part of the 
town. They must have had similar experi- 
ences with seamen, as they knew just where 
to take us. My man stopped at a place where 
some Japanese women were seated in a large 
window playing on their samisens. 

"Go in, John, go in. Welcome all the 
same." In I went, and found the greater 
part of our port watch and some of the Un- 
daunted's men. Forgetting the rupture of 
the evening, they were enjoying the " chon- 
kino " dance with some Japanese girls. 

My visit to Kobe consisted in being hauled 
round the city in a " baby carriage " between 


these ^^ chon-kino " houses and the " Ameri- 
can Eagle." Only once did we emerge from 
this district, when the Japs, to gain our good- 
will or our money, drove us to the top of a 
hill where there was a waterfall, near which 
several tea-houses were located. I suppose 
it was too quiet and peaceful here, and too 
much attention was shown the ofi&cers of the 
British warship Dido, for us to be comfort- 

My reader may imagine that there were 
other things to attract a lad beside carousing 
with a crowd of sailors. I suppose there 
would be for one who had not been confined 
on a ship for so long a time, and who would 
have been received in places of refinement 
and respectability. Japan is no different 
from other parts of the world. The respect- 
able amongst the Japanese, Europeans, and 
Americans, in Kobe, would not think for a 
moment of associating with a common sailor. 
Debarred from respectable resorts, he enters 
where he is welcomed. Glad to be away from 
my tyrant, and as a sailor, though a young 
one, I remained in my shipmates' company 
while on liberty. 

On Monday morning it was a sore-looking 


crowd that reported on board. It had been 
decided on the way off to refuse duty, and 
to demand an interview with the American 
consul regarding the death of old Wilson. 
I made up my mind to defend myself against 
the assaults of the cruel boatswain, who 
began to buUy us as we came over the side. 

The men refused to " turn to," and asked 
to see the captain. I kept with them, thereby 
showing that I, too, desired to see the old 
man. Perhaps I might have acted differ- 
ently if I had been free from the effects of 
the recent debauch. 

The boatswain, grabbing me by the coat- 
collar and quickly twisting me around, kicked 
me, and ordered me forward. I pulled a be- 
laying-pin from the rail, and landed a blow 
which stunned him. In a moment both he 
and the second mate were at me, and all hands 
were involved in a violent struggle. I did 
not witness the end, for, beaten into a state 
of unconsciousness, I was put into my room. 
This trouble was much help to me, for while 
it was in progress I had told the boatswain I 
intended to defend myself at the peril of my 
life, if he or any man tried to take advantage 
of me. My life was my own. They could 


have it if they wanted it, but beware how 
they took it. I suffered punishment by be- 
ing kept on deck at arduous labor, but re- 
ceived no more blows or kicks. 

I learned from the men that Captain 
Thomas and Mr. Parker quieted the disturb- 
ance, and after listening to the men's de- 
mands, the old man satisfied them by taking 
three on shore with him. The consul gave 
them no reprisal. He ordered them aboard, 
and when they refused, they were put in jail. 
When the news of their confinement reached 
us, most all the crew refused duty, were 
lodged in jail, and Japanese hired in their 
places. Gradually one after another suc- 
cumbed under this treatment, and returned to 
their work on board. 

From daylight till dark we were busy scrap- 
ing the outside of the ship, and on Sundays 
it would be dinner time before we finished 
polishing the brass-work. Long strips of 
copper were nailed on the after part of the 
topsail yards to prevent them from chafing 
against the backstays when the yards were 
braced up. After the deck had been scrubbed 
and cleaned, and every bit of copper below 
the rail polished with pumice stone and ker- 


osine oil, we were sent to polish the copper 
tips on the ends of the lower shrouds, and 
the copper on the topsail yards. 

The St. Augustine became a very uncom- 
fortable ship. The boatswain proved to be a 
drunkard, spending several days on shore on 
a debauch, and thereby losing the good-will 
of the mate. Mr. Parker and Mr. Williams 
quarreled, and, beginning aft, revenge and 
hatefulness passed to the forward crowd. A 
strict watch was kept to prevent any one leav- 
ing the ship. The oil and the coal were dis- 
charged, and we were ballasted with gravel. 
After a stay of about five weeks in Kobe, we 
raised our " mud hook," and before a strong 
northeast monsoon, scudded for Manila Bay. 

Now we may be termed a " hot " ship. 
The afternoon and dog watches below were 
no longer a reahty. With the exception of 
a given time for eating, the watch that came 
on deck at eight in the morning remained 
there till twelve that night. The pumice 
stone was put in use. During the day we 
scrubbed and cleaned, and at night, by the 
light of a lantern, we polished the boltheads 
between decks and gave them a coat of red 


On the eighteentli day out from Kobe, we 
anchored in the quiet harbor of Manila Bay. 
Here, again, the crew demanded an interview 
with the American consul, but on the cap- 
tain's return from shore we were told that the 
consul had refused to see us. 

The natives did the work of discharging 
the ballast, and loaded us with sugar and 
hemp. We were not idle. In the hot sun 
we were continually scraping or doing labor, 
some necessary and much that was not. The 
Chinese cook was not in favor with the for- 
ward crowd. He was not only filthy in his 
habits, but insolent and sullen. He became 
involved in some trouble aft, and to be rid of 
the ship, plotted with Bill and Jack to de- 
stroy her. 

We were all loaded for Boston, with the 
sails bent, when about two o'clock of the 
night before we were to sail the man on an- 
chor watch reported that the ship was on fire. 
Sure enough, the smoke was ascending from 
the fore peak. The ship's bell was rung. 
The crews of the vessels in the harbor gave 
their aid to quench the flames ; but it was of 
no avail. By dayHght the St. Augustine was 
ablaze and burning freely. 


The ship's stores and a new suit of sails 
were brought on deck and hung over the 
stern. Every effort was put forth to save 
something, but it was an unprofitable task, 
as the next day the harbor of&cials went from 
ship to ship and confiscated everything that 
was saved. 

Although it was a sad sight to see so fine 
a ship absorbed by the lapping flames of fire, 
yet I rejoiced to see her burn. But the ships 
in the bay were in imminent danger of being 
set on fire by the flying sparks. It was im- 
possible to go forward to pay out the chain. 
A Spanish gunboat steamed out from Cavite 
and tried to shoot a hole in the ship's side 
below the water line. The aim was poor, so 
they accomplished nothing, though they shot 
away our bulwarks. The last resort was to 
send a diver to the bottom to bend on a rope 
to the anchor. While at the bottom he man- 
aged to unshackle the " jew's-harp," after 
which the gunboat hauled the old St. Augus- 
tine clear of the shipping. Entirely envel- 
oped in flames, she was beached on the shore 
near Cavite. 

Bill, Jack, and the Chinese cook were put 
in jail, but I never knew what became of 


them. The rest of us were huddled in a 
native hotel. We demanded our discharges, 
and our request was granted. I had sixty- 
two Mexican dollars, more money than I ever 
owned before. For nine days, with others of 
the crew, I indulged in all the wretchedness 
Manila affords a sailor. Havinsr had enoug-h 
of the Philippines, I shipped as able seaman 
with Captain Dodge, of the American cHpper 
Oleander, saiHng for New York with sugar 
and hemp. I signed the articles in the con- 
sul's office and was rowed out to the ship, 
where I found three of my late mates on 
board ahead of me. The Oleander was in 
need of four seamen, and so completed her 
complement of men from the " beach comb- 
ers " from the St. Augustine. 

Hardened and fearless, and quite competent 
to do the work of an able seaman, I would 
have been pleasantly situated among stran- 
gers. Instead of being glad to have me with 
them, my shipmates of the St. Augustine did 
their utmost to bully me, and to have me do 
the work of a boy in the forecastle. 

The first day out from Manila I asserted 
my rights, when Oscar cursed me, and told 
me in very strong language that though down 


on the articles as able seaman, I would have 
to care for the forecastle. The question was 
soon settled. He was a fat, ungainly fellow. 
I felt quite sure I could tucker him out at a 
stand-up tussle. So I offered to fight, provid- 
ing the other men would not allow him to 
clinch me. They were in for the fun, so they 
jeered at my opponent and spurred me on to 
thrash him. Their attitude incited me to 
conquer. From chest to chest I leaped at 
him, rained on blows, and gained the victory. 
For some time after this I was unmolested by 
any one forward. 

We had our afternoon watch below, but no 
dog-watch. From four to six all hands were 
on deck. We entered the Straits of Sunda. 
The natives from Java visited us in canoes 
loaded with yams, sweet potatoes, monkeys, 
and parrots. The deck of the Oleander was 
like a menagerie. In exchange for a piece 
of clothing, every man secured a monkey or 
parrot. While they were on board they were 
a constant source of amusement, but as soon 
as they reached cold weather in the southern 
latitudes, they sickened and died. 

Java Head passed, we bowled along before 
a strong southeast "trade." If we could have 


rounded the Cape and kept up our pace, no 
steamer could have made a quicker passage. 
But the ahnost invariable westerly wind 
greeted us, and for seventeen days we were 
trying to weather the Cape. Most of the time 
we were head reaching from one tack to the 
other. Rainy and blowing, it was a most 
favorable opportunity to " soogee-moogee." 
There was no end to our misery ; wet and 
cold, we forever rubbed the white paint with 
sand and canvas. It was no use to complain. 
" Growl you may, but work you must." 

One morning while we were close in to the 
land, the wind died out to a calm ; then a 
soft southerly wind sprung up which carried 
us around the Cape. We left the outlines of 
Table Mountain astern, and rolled along down 
to the tropics. Now the overhauling and 
refitting to which every homeward bounder is 
subjected began in reality. Fine weather pre- 
vailed, the " trade " being so steady that for 
days we never touched a brace. Mr. Clifford, 
the mate, naturally took advantage of the 
weather. With the exception of two men in 
each watch to steer and keep the lookouts, all 
hands were on deck all day, splicing, serving 
shrouds, fitting new running gear, and setting 


up the lower rigging fore and aft. At night, 
the man at the wheel, the lookout, and the 
officer of the watch cared for the ship. 

With a blue sky overhead and a steady- 
breeze on our quarter, two weeks flew rapidly 
past. Then one morning we sighted the 
shores of St. Helena, rising above the sea hke 
a great black cloud on the horizon. That 
afternoon we sailed close in to the shore and 
anchored in Jamestown harbor. 

During our few hours' stay here, five 
square-rigged homeward bounders following 
us came to anchor close to us ; for St. Helena 
lies in the track of all vessels homeward 
bound from the Cape to Europe or the United 
States. Jamestown is situated in a valley be- 
tween two lofty hills, and from where we were 
at anchor we could see the winding roads on 
each side of these hills. On the top of one, 
Ladder Hill, is a fort with barracks for the 
English soldiers. At the extreme top is a 
signal station. From the town to the flag- 
pole is a ladder with three hundred and sixty- 
five steps. It is not necessary to take the 
road to the top of the hill. If you are strong 
enough, you can ascend the steps. 

Several bumboats surrounded us, well 


stocked with fruit, eggs, curios, and photo- 
graphs of Longwood and Napoleon's grave. 
The old man had engaged one man as pur- 
veyor to the ship, and allowed us to contract a 
debt of five dollars each. The men anxiously 
sought for rum, but the bumboat man knew 
the unwritten law prohibiting the sale of 
liquor to seamen. He also knew he would 
forfeit his Hcense besides losing his payment 
for the goods supplied us. 

Five dollars is a small sum for a deep-water 
sailor to dispose of at such a time. Without 
questioning the prices, we expended the al- 
lotted amount on fruit and curios. That af tei*- 
noon a water-boat came alongside. We filled 
our tanks, the old man returned bringing a 
barrel of tar with him, and at twilight we 
were leaving behind us the black, high hills 
of St. Helena. 

"hard up ant> hard down" 

When a sailor sights a square-rigged ves- 
sel with a stumped fore topgallant mast carry- 
ing no fore royal, he wiU remark in a scornful 
manner, " No fore royal, no coffee in the 
morning." I do not know how this saying 
originated, but we carried a fore royal, and 
we were served with coffee when called at 
five, and after coffee, began to tar down the 

Each day brought us nearer home. The 
very thought that the voyage would soon 
end was conducive to a contented spirit. 
For several days we were blackening the 
shrouds and stays, and when that was fin- 
ished, the painting and holystoning began. 
We were restored to our usual watches. Bad, 
squally weather had set in, so the holystones 
and sand were put into use. Until we entered 
the Gulf Stream, it was a constant push on a 
holystone, and as we came on deck the word 


was, " Get your prayer books and say your 
prayers." Clothed in oilskin trousers we 
would kneel and rub the stones on the deck 
with water and sand. The friction caused 
by the rubbing of the holystone removed the 
dark surface of the wood, and revealed its 
bright natural color. At the end of the voy- 
age our decks were as bright and clean as a 
newly planed plank. 

Even at night the process of cleaning the 
deck was carried on. When a holystone has 
been used till the hand has grown accus- 
tomed to its shape, more work can be done 
with it than with a new one. Each man was 
given a certain amount of deck to clean dur- 
ing his watch, and this induced us to hold 
on to our stones. We therefore took them 
below and placed them under our heads to 
have them ready for use when called on 

Early one morning we had just reheved 
the watch. Our portion of scrubbing had 
been allotted us, and we had already begun, 
when Chris, a heavy built Dane, one of the 
St. Augustine men, accused me of having 
his holystone. It was too dark for him to 
see, but as I was the smallest of the crowd, 


and he must growl with somebody, he said, 
" King, you have my holystone." 

" No, I have n't." We were in a heated 
argument when the boatswain shouted, " Stop 
your Portuguese argument and go ahead 
with your holystoning." Chris said no 
more. At eight bells we went below to 
breakfast. We had helped ourselves to " lob- 
scouse " and a pot of coffee, and retired to 
different corners of the forecastle to eat. I 
took my seat on the doorstep of the forecastle 
with my portion. Chris renewed the holy- 
stone difference. We abused each other in 
strong language, which ended by his rushing 
at me with his sheath knife. I checked his 
progress by dashing the contents of my 
" Liverpool hook pot " in his face, and 
thereby saved myself. It frightened me 
when I saw the skin shrivel from the scald- 
ing effect of the hot coffee. Then the mate 
came forward and threatened to throw me 
over the side. 

" Mr. Clifford, wiU you listen to me, sir," 
I said. I then told him of my narrow escape 
from the sheath knife. Great was my relief 
when he said, " You did right. King ; pity 
you had n't poured the whole kettle on him." 


Chris was oiled and greased, and was forced 
to remain in his bunk for several days. I felt 
sorry for him ; still it gave me prestige among 
the others. I had been taken advantage of 
by most of the men during the whole trip. 
I had endured their railing and invectives. 
Now they knew I was Hkely to protect my- 
self from their bitter and sarcastic taunts. 
After this I was not only unmolested, but on 
an equal footing with all forward. 

Without any incident worth recording, we 
raised the Highlands of the Jersey coast, and 
took a pilot for Sandy Hook. A towboat 
took our hawser and hauled us rapidly along. 
The sails were unbent, made up, and stowed 
in the lazaret. It took the boatswain most of 
his time to keep us clear of the boarding- 
house runners. They not only interfered by 
wanting to converse with us, but also watched 
their opportunity to give us their flasks of 
*^ fire-water." 

I was determined to have no intercourse 
with the " sharks," and not to implicate my- 
self by accepting their liquor. As they ap- 
proached me, I evaded their stubborn per- 
sistency by saying I had friends to stay with 
in New York. 


I had written home from Manila telling 
my mother to send her next letter to New 
York. As we tied up at the wharf, a repre- 
sentative from Fred Colcord's clothing-store, 
on South Street, boarded us, bringing our 
mail. Can I describe my feelings, the fright, 
the quick pulsations of my heart, when a 
black-edged envelope was passed to me ? I 
could see by stamps and postmark that it was 
from Barbados, but the handwriting was 
strange. I opened it, and drew from the 
folds of the inclosed letter this card : — 


Yesterday, 1st August, at Payne's Bay, St. James, 

Isabella Lewis, 

Aged 64 years. 

Wife of John King, 

Her funeral will take place this Saturday 

at 3.30 o'clock, from St. Thomas' Church, 

2nd August, 1884. 

I quickly replaced letter and card in the 
envelope, and struggled hard to make myself 
forget it, and to cast from my mind the 
thought that death had taken from me my 
mother. As the tears gathered, I sought 
another channel into which to divert my 
thoughts. There was plenty of work to do. 
Even after the crew had left for the board- 


ing-liouses, I was assisting tlie boatswain to 
coil the gear of the courses in the tops. 

Assured that no one was in the forecastle 
to witness my grief, I took out the letter and 
read the sad news of my dear mother's death. 
My father, unable to see sufficiently to write 
himself, had one of my sisters write for him. 
I had planned to look for a ship saihng to 
Barbados, and to take her a portion of the 
wages due me. I had built my castles in the 
air. Now there was no mother to welcome me 
home. The boatswain, ready to leave the ship, 
came forward to lock the forecastle door and 
saw me in my distress. His heart softened, 
and in his sympathy I was invited to go home 
with him. 

I would have fared as well in a sailors' 
boarding-house, for although there were no 
sailors among the inmates, this lodging-house 
was as vile and pernicious in its influence as 
any dive could be. The lager beer can was 
ever on the go between the house and the 

In two days we were officially discharged. 
I had about thirty dollars due me, so after 
buying a few articles of clothing and pay- 
ing a week's board in advance, I " blew to 


the winds " the little money I had, and was 
stranded again. 

I learned that Captain Painter of the brig- 
antine Pearl had arrived. As he was an old 
friend of ours, I had no trouble in securing 
a berth as able seaman on his ship. Just ten 
days after leaving the Oleander I was out- 
ward bound to Port of Spain, Trinidad, with 

The Pearl was an easy ship. I made four 
trips to the West Indies, and the captain's 
home was my headquarters while in New 
York. Those were pleasant days. On his 
vessel there was plenty of well-cooked food, 
and with watch and watch there was ample 
rest below for his seamen. The only discom- 
fort was the lack of heat in the forecastle. 
The forecastle on the Pearl was a very small 
space, with four bunks. In the centre, be- 
tween these, was the foremast, so that there 
was hardly room to stand. These four trips 
to the West Indies were made in winter, and 
I endured enough suffering from cold and 
exposure to fiU me with rheumatism. Work- 
ing cargo in the heat of the tropics made us 
especially susceptible to the cold weather on 
reaching the American coast. 


It does seem strange that shipowners 
when building their ships never seem to 
think of having the sailors' quarters large 
enough to contain a stove. And should 
there perchance be room enough, there is 
still no stove or means of making the place 

Many a time I have felt it colder in the 
forecastle than on the open deck. To keep 
warm, we would turn in clothed in our stiff, 
frozen oilskins and our wet sea boots. The 
heat of the tropical sun opened the seams on 
top of the forecastle, and the falling spray 
would drip and form icicles over our bunks. 
In such icy caves many seamen have endured 
the bitter cold, and have suffered the effects 
of such treatment years afterwards, lingering 
on sick beds with frames racked with rheu- 

I had heard that the American coasting 
vessels were comfortable " homes," so I de- 
cided to enjoy some of this home life on 
board ship, and agreed with Captain Jacobson 
to sail as able seaman on his three-masted 
schooner, the Bella Armstrong, taking a 
cargo of sulphur to Wilmington, North Car- 
olina. This vessel proved to be a home while 


we were in American waters, but once clear 
of the coast, she was the warmest craft I 
had ever sailed in. In Wilmington the sul- 
phur was discharged some five miles up a 
creek, where nobody lived. For fear of con- 
tracting malaria, we were conveyed each 
evening to the city in a towboat with the 
stevedores, and housed in cheap lodgings, 
returning each morning to the ship. 

Malaria, or any kind of fever, would 
perhaps have been less hurtful than the 
influences of the vile and contaminating 
surroundings along the water front of 
Wilmington. Numerous saloons and dance- 
halls, overcrowded, not only with black 
women, but also with the lowest " corn-crack- 
ers," were the only open doors wherein to 
while away the evenings of our two weeks' 
stay in this port. 

The sulphur discharged, we were towed 
down the river bound for Fernandina, to 
load heavy timbers of pitch-pine lumber for 
La Guayra, Venezuela. Without a pound of 
ballast this flat-bottomed schooner could 
travel and not imperil our lives. Having a 
centreboard, we were constantly hauling it 
up and lowering it down. 


We reached the half -dead, forsaken city of 
Fernandina and tied up at one of the wharves. 
Stevedores were engaged to stow the lumber 
while we sauntered around the decks hardly 
doing a thing. Mr. Gillespie, the mate, was 
taken sick with malaria and sent to the hos- 
pital. I called to see him, expecting to see 
an institution of comfort for the sick. In- 
stead, I found him stretched on a cot in a 
room at the top of a house kept by a " corn- 
cracker," who made a living by providing 
such a shelter for sick seamen. She was 
well paid for her services, but the only bene- 
fit the patient derived from being at her 
home was his freedom from the stings of 
mosquitoes, as she kept the windows screened. 

Nowhere have I seen these pests more 
numerous or venomous than in this town. 
We were nightly in a state of torment with 
their hateful singing and troublesome bites, 
drawing the very life-blood from our faces, 
arms, and legs, till we were in a condition 
approaching madness. 

After a stay of three weeks, timbers all 
stowed, and the mate recovered from his ill- 
ness, we were towed out of the river. We 
were minus one man, for a sailor had de- 


serted, and it was almost impossible to secure 
another's service. But Mr. Gillespie had 
visited a schooner moored close to us, and 
had offered tempting inducements to a Ger- 
man to desert his ship and sail with us. So, 
about eleven that night, the mate and I 
rowed our small skiff under the bow of the 
schooner, clandestinely met the German, and 
rowed him to our craft. 

Next morning we tripped our anchor and 
started for La Guayra. We were no sooner 
clear of land than our easy times vanished, 
and the " mule-driving " began. No after- 
noon or dog watch below; constantly at work, 
with only two men in a watch, we were either 
at the wheel or lookout when on deck at 
night. The food was meagre, and it was 
useless to complain, as the cook was a bully 
who sided with the after-end. Mr. Hanson, 
the second mate, though more lenient than 
the mate, was forced to work his watch to 
carry out Mr. Gillespie's orders. The poor 
German cursed the day he left his ship to 
join the Bella Armstrong. 

On the afternoon of the nineteenth day 
from Fernandina we came to anchor in the 
middle of the roadstead, about half a mile 


from the town of La Guayra. Preparations 
were immediately made for discharging the 

An iron spike (dog) with a ring in it was 
driven into an end of each timber before 
landing it over the side. When a quantity 
of timbers were lashed together, they were 
cast loose from the ship and allowed to drift 
to leeward with the wind to a projecting point 
of land. One afternoon the dog in a stick 
of timber fouled on the rail, and was hauled 
out as the timber went shooting overboard. 
Away it went floating astern. Knowing that 
I could swim well enough to bring it back, I 
jumped overboard and reached it. I had 
just taken hold of it when I felt something 
rub against me, and on looking, saw a mon- 
strous shark at my side. I quickly jumped 
on the stick of timber. Fortunately, it was 
buoyant enough to keep me out of the water 
away from the shark's mouth. 

Anxiously watching every motion of my 
would-be destroyer, I lay flat on my stomach 
and yelled for help. One of the native steve- 
dores saw my predicament, and pointing at 
me, yelled to the mate on deck, " Pronto ! 
Hombre ! Pronto ! " Jumping into a native 


"dugout," the second mate paddled to my 
rescue, but I had drifted about forty feet 
from the ship before he reached me. It was 
with a great sense of relief that I rolled 
myself into the canoe. Then together we 
paddled, and pushed the timber back to the 
raft alongside the ship. 

There were days when, on account of the 
heavy swell rolling in, it was impossible to 
work the cargo. To roll and tumble about 
in such an unpleasant fashion, worse than if 
we were under way, is anything but cheering. 
As the days went by, we took advantage of 
what favorable opportunities we had, and at 
last our sticks of timber were all hauled up 
on the sandy beach. 

Again without any ballast we were under 
way for Maracaibo to load fustic wood for 
Boston. On Sunday we were allowed to 
visit the shores of this slow-going place. 
We tramped miles up the beach for the sake 
of an hour's surf bathing, but ever on the 
alert for sharks. The bay was ahve with 
fish, both small and large, and when night 
came, we would sit on the forecastle head 
watching them dart through the water. 
Upon some evenings the dusky men and 


maidens would row around our sliip and 
serenade us, playing Spanish fandango airs 
on their guitars. 

The fustic all in, we started early one 
morning to beat our way out of the gulf. 
A strong wind and tide being against us, we 
made very little progress ; only when the tide 
was in our favor could we gain any headway. 
The second afternoon we were drifting on a 
mud-bank. To save ourselves the starboard 
anchor was let go. There must have been a 
flaw in a link of the chain near the anchor, 
for while we were heaving on the windlass 
the chain parted. Fortunately, the foresail 
and mainsail were set. With the then favor- 
able tide we edged our way along, clear of 
the mud-bank, and let go the port anchor 
in deeper water. 

Now the work of finding our lost anchor 
began. Both our boats were lowered. With 
a grappling-iron and a new coil of rope we 
rowed over and over the location of the lost 
anchor, hoping that the grappling-iron might 
hook on to it. Tired and hungry, we were 
kept in the hot sun dragging the bottom of 
the gulf. To be continually towing a grap- 
pling-iron, with the fear that your efforts 


may be in vain, is, to say tlie least, depress- 
ing exercise. But Mr. Gillespie did not lose 
hope. He stubbornly held to the opinion 
that the anchor would be found. 

On the next morning we began another 
day's search, and that afternoon our efforts 
were successful. The grappKng-iron hooked 
on to something which proved to be the 
anchor. We brought the rope attached to 
the grappling-iron between the two boats, 
and rigged a Spanish windlass. A boat's 
mast was placed over the gunwales of the 
boats so that the two ends extended outside 
the two outer gunwales. Then the grappling- 
rope was secured to the mast between the 
boats. A small crowbar was lashed to each 
end of the mast to be used as levers in revolv- 
ing the mast. As the mast revolved, it wound 
up the grappling-rope, and by holding the 
strain on the crowbars, we lifted the anchor 
under the bottom of the boats. A lashing 
was passed through the shackle, and our 
prize secured to the stern of the larger 
boat. I had heard of a Spanish windlass, 
and although tired and weary, the experi- 
ence of having to rig one was compensation 
enough. Once more we were under way 


for home, and with strong trade winds we 
howled along. 

It was midwinter (January) when we 
reached the American coast. For three 
days we sailed wing and wing before a stiff 
southwest gale. The old man was deter- 
mined to make Gay Head with this favorable 
wind, and he drove the Bella Armstrong 
through it. 

To heave a ship's wheel over when she is 
racing and griping as we were is no child's 
play. It was necessary for two men to be at 
the wheel. " Hard up, and hard down. Look 
out you don't jibe her." At times the wheel 
would get away from the helmsman and spin 
around like a buzz saw. Once she came to 
with a vengeance, and smothered herself as 
she dove under a monstrous sea. Staggering 
like a drunken man, and dripping like a half- 
drowned rat, she would answer her helm and 
wear her nose before it. She steered so badly 
that, although it was bitter cold, the two men 
would come from the wheel dripping with 
perspiration, as though they had been hoist- 
ing sugar hogsheads in the tropics. 

We passed Gay Head, and anchored in 
Tarpauhn Cove. For eighteen days we tried 


to reach Cape Cod, but could not accomplish 
it. Whenever we started, all the schooners 
at anchor would follow suit, and that night 
we would be at anchor again in some part of 
Vineyard Sound. At length a southwest 
wind lasted long enough to run us inside the 
cape. Minot's Light was passed ; a towboat 
took hold of us and hauled us to an ice- 
packed berth at an East Boston wharf. 

I had told my shipmates of my determi- 
nation to keep clear of the sailors' boarding- 
houses, and they had agreed to do hkewise. 
As a consequence, the land sharks soon left 
us. While tying up the ship, Mr. Rose, a 
junk man in search of old rope and the con- 
tents of the shakings barrel, visited us. We 
learned that he had room to board us with 
his family, so we put our traps in his boat 
and went across the river with him to his 
home on Tileston Street. For two weeks I 
breathed the demoralizing atmosphere of the 
North End of Boston. My money was ex- 
hausted. The weather was severe. The very 
thought of having to go to sea, to suffer cold 
and the hard usage like the experience on 
the Bella Armstrong, was painful. 

During my ramble around the sailor dis- 



trict I formed the acquaintance of one of 
" Uncle Sam's blue shirts." From him I 
learned the whereabouts of the Navy Yard, 
and that both seamen and ordinary seamen 
were wanted on the Wabash. Next morn- 
ing, February 10, 1886, I entered the Navy 
Yard gate. After being questioned as to my 
business by the marine on guard at the gate, 
I was directed to take the path leading to the 
Wabash, and pass my examinations. 

The sight of the big guns, officers in brass 
buttons, everything ha\ing a military appear- 
ance, made me somewhat timid. I reached 
the scow, and was conveyed to the guard- 
ship. I told the officer of the deck I wanted 
to enlist as ordinary seaman. I might have 
enHsted as seaman, but on account of my age 
I was afraid of being rejected. I was eighteen 
years old, and one of the qualifications was 
that the appHcant should be twenty-one. No 
one but an apprentice could enlist under that 
age. Being questioned regarding my age, I 
said I was twenty-two. I suppose I looked 
that old, as there was no hesitation on the 
part of the officer. 

After examining me upon sending aloft 
mast and yards, the use of the lead Hne, and 


the various points of the compass, I vras 
turned over to a stout, good-natured boat- 
swain's mate, Bob "Wilkes, for his examina- 
tion in seamanship. He had me make a few 
splices and serve some marline on the hon 
rail around the hatch coamings, and passed 
me as a qualified ordinary seaman. 

I knew I was color-bhnd in red, gTeen, and 
brown, and feared the doctor's examination. 
Many a night at sea I had seen a hght while 
on the lookout, and had shouted, " Light, 0." 
At the word from the officer of the watch, 
"Can you make it out?" I would guess, some- 
times correctly. At other times I would be 
subjected to his abuse, and called a "thick 
head " for not knowing" a red from a o-reen 
hght. Whenever I was sent to put out the 
side lights I would have to read " port " or 
" starboard " on the lamps, to know which 
was which. Or I would wait till one of the 
watch had taken a side lio-ht, and then I 
would take the remaining one and put it in 
the box opposite his. Sometimes on seeing 
a light, as the officer would say, " Can you 
make it out ? " I would, if near him, shout, 
" There it is, sir," and so keep him from dis- 
covering my color-blindness. 


It was afternoon before my turn came to 
meet the doctor. Away in the fore peak was 
the sick bay, and here he " overhauled " my 
frame. He had me perform the antics of a 
circus clown, and satisfied that I was sound 
in body and mind, passed me over to the 
apothecary, "old Doc Warren," to test my 

" Doc Warren " was in a hurry to leave 
the ship. He produced a box filled with 
skeins of different-colored wool. Had he 
taken a bit of green, red, or brown I should 
have guessed, as between these I cannot dis- 
criminate. As it was, he drew a skein of 
blue from the box, saying : — 

" What color is this ? " 

"Oh, that's blue." 

" I guess you 're not color-blind." 

" I guess not. I can see your nose is not 
red." This remark produced a smile, the 
box was closed, and I was declared a quali- 
fied ordinary seaman in every way. 

The ship's writer brought us before the 
executive officer, and we who were to enlist 
that day swore a faithful allegiance to 
Uncle Sam. The paymaster's clerk and 
his yeoman, with his ever faithful Jack of 


the Dust, Bill Griffin, served us our clothing, 
beds, and hammocks, and I with seven others 
donned the blue uniform of the American 
Navy. Then I sent word to Mr. Rose to 
take my citizen's clothes away. They were 
kind people. I liked them, and gave them 
every stitch I owned, thereby severing all 
connections with the garb of civil life. 

man-of-war's man 

I WAS a novice on board a man-of-war. 
As soon as I reached tlie spar deck, I was 
buttonholed by a petty officer wearing an 
eagle on his shirt-sleeve, who said I was in 
the foretop, his part of the ship. This was 
foreign to me. 

We were piped to supper. The ship's 
corporal showed me my mess table, and I rel- 
ished iny first meal on a man-of-war. It was 
a pleasant discovery to find that I no longer 
had to care for my pot, pan, and spoon, and 
to hustle around for my food at meal times. 
Here, a man was detailed to care for the mess 
gear and clean up after meals. All I had to 
do was to sit at the swinging table which was 
hooked to the deck above, and eat my fill. 
At supper I formed the acquaintance of a 
" blue shirt," Tommy Pavoor. From him I 
learned that an officer or petty officer could 
not abuse me, and I should be punished if 


caught fighting with a shipmate. But if at 
any time I was forced to fight, I could go 
down to the stoke hole or the bag room in the 
fore peak out of sight of "Jimmy Legs" (the 
master at arms) or the ship's corporals. These 
secluded places were constantly used by the 
men in which to settle disputes. 

Shortly after supper Bob Wilkes blew his 
whistle, and like a roaring lion yelled, " Fore- 
top men, fill the scuttle butt." The captain 
of the foretop hustled his men below to the 
fresh-water pump. Here we relieved each 
other at the pump handle till the scuttle butt 
(a large cask used to contain the water sup- 
ply for the day) on the gun deck was filled. 
Then came another blow of his whistle, and 
that vociferous shout, " Stand by your ham- 
mocks." Knowing that mine was on the 
berth deck, I watched the antics of the boat- 
swain's mate and the men. AH hands gath- 
ered by the hammock nettings, an opening 
along the top of the rail extending from the 
brake of the poop to abreast the foremast. 
A toot from the whistle sent a man from each 
part of the ship into the nettings. Then the 
officer of the deck, standing by the main- 
mast, said, "Pipe down," a long shrill whistle, 


and the men in tlie nettings shouted the num- 
bers on the hammocks and passed them to 
the men. 

Every man on a man-of-war has a ship's 
number, which is marked on his hammock, 
and a paymaster's number, which is stamped 
on his bag. 

I went below to the berth deck and took 
my hammock from among those belonging to 
the men who had enlisted that day. I hooked 
this to two hammock hooks on the gun deck. 
After removing the lashing, I lifted myself 
and tried my new bed. No sooner was I in 
than out I came on the opposite side. My 
hammock clews had been fastened so unevenly 
that as I jumped in the thing careened, 
turned bottom up, and dashed me and my 
beddinoj on the deck. This created a laug-h. 
Tom Pavoor came to my rescue, and taught 
me how to sling a hammock, and how to 
fasten the clews so that it would swing evenly. 
Durino' this time I was deliverinsr a harang-ue 
to the few who were indulging in contemp- 
tuous merriment at my expense. I loudly 
declared that although unaccustomed to the 
ways of man-of-war life, I could show some 
of them what " sailorizing " was, and that I 
was able to guzzle any one of them. 


One of the recruits, a farm hand from Ver- 
mont, who had enhsted as landsman about 
two weeks previous to this, thought he knew 
it all. Tom Pavoor whispered in my ear, 
" Choke his luff." I did. I jumped at him, 
and we struggled in each other's embrace till 
Pavoor dragged me bodily from the crowd, 
saying, " Cheese it ! here comes the marine 

I saw that the only way to gain prestige 
among these men was to fight and win a bat- 
tle. Accordingly, I followed my man from 
Vermont to the door of the head in the eyes 
of the ship on the spar deck, and, hidden 
by the carpenter shop, clinched with him 
again. We pounded each other till he cried 
"Enough." I was as badly used up as he 
was, and was glad to let it drop. This en- 
gagement sufficed to show the others that I 
could defend myself. 

There were between two and three hundred 
recruits on board. That night the spar deck 
of the old Wabash resembled an immense car- 
avansary, — a warhke world by itself. Her 
spotless deck swarmed with sailors, many, like 
myself, raw recruits. Some were landsmen 
who had never seen a ship till they landed 


here, and therefore knew nothing of ship 
Hfe. Others, old man-of-war's men, " big dis- 
charge fellows," who knew the ropes, kept by 
themselves. These old stagers took good care 
to see that we, the greenhorns, did the work 
of answering calls and cleaning decks. In 
the gun ports and other parts of the deck 
the men grouped in cliques. By being 
friendly with Pavoor, I was welcomed to a 
gathering of old-timers, and watching their 
movements and questioning them, I soon 
entered into the spirit of man-of-war hfe. 

A crowd forward on the spar deck engaged 
in a game of cards called " Honest John," 
anything but honest. It was manipulated by 
a few, who had control of the game and knew 
the private marks on the cards. Seeing others 
haul in their handsome stakes, I put my 
money down, and within an hour, with other 
fools like myself, lost our month's advance. 
When " Honest John " is played fair and 
square, no one envies the banker. But when, 
with the aid of marked cards and accompHces, 
he defrauds, they consider it dishonest. 
While the banker was handling the cards he 
had sentinels on the lookout for the master 
at arms, the ship's corporal, the sergeant of 

MA1^_0F-WAR'S MAN 227 

marines, or any other person in authority, 
who would stop the game and report the 
banker. Until two bells, nine o'clock, above 
the general din of merry-making around the 
decks, the game was undisturbed. At this 
time the boatswain's mate trilled his whistle 
in piping down. 

Occasionally Brady, the ship's corporal, 
walked forward, but the sentinels gave the 
signal as he showed his head above the fore 
hatch coamings. In the twinkling of an eye 
cards and money disappeared, and the wash 
deck locker, used as the banker's table, was 
a rest for a checkerboard. The scene pre- 
sented was of a crowd enjoying a song, or 
engaged in some frolicsome sport. 

After blowing his whistle, the old boat- 
swain's mate shouted to a few stragglers who 
were slow in turning in to keep silence. In 
a few moments the old ship was as quiet as a 
tomb. That night I slept soundly. Next 
morning the trill of the boatswain's whistle 
roused me ; old Bob Wilkes, standing by the 
side of my hammock, yelled, " AU hands." 
Then blowing another call and shouting, " Up 
all hammocks," he almost deafened me. I 
sprang from my hammock and began to lash 


it for stowing in the netting, but did not 
haul the turns taut enough. When I reached 
the deck, it was baggy and loose. The blan- 
kets were bulging out, and the whole thing 
resembled an ungainly, slovenly bundle. As 
I reached the spar deck, Bob Wilkes saw me. 
Taking hold of my hanmock, he twisted me 
around and said in a gruff voice, " My grand- 
mother could lash a hammock better than 
that ! Go below and give it a respectable 
lash." Looking at him, I answered, " Yes, 
your grandmother must have been a man-of- 
war's man to produce such a fine specimen 
as you." " What 's that you say ? " I re- 
peated my statement, and meant it. 

He was a splendid sailor, an old war vet- 
eran, with fully a dozen bullet-holes in his 
body, cheerful, and liked by every man. He 
beheved I was earnest, and was rather pleased 
at my remark. Following me to the gun 
deck, he taught me how to fold the blankets 
and place them on the mattress ; how many 
turns to take with the lashing around the 
hammock, and how to expend the end of the 
lashing. Unhooking the tied hammock, he 
stuck the clews between the turns of the lash- 
ing, and patting the whole thing with bis 
hand, said, — 


"Young man, that's the way to lash a 
hammock. When I was a young man in the 
navy, we had to lash our hammocks so they 
would pass through a hoop made for that 
purpose, before we could stow them in the 
nettings. Things have changed now. Any 
old way will do." 

That morning, after the decks were mopped 
and cleaned, at three bells we mustered for 
quarters. Now I was put through my first 
drill in facing about and marching. I learned 
rapidly, and within a week I was taken from 
the awkward squad and drilled with the 
others. As the days rolled on I was trained 
in the usual routine of big gun drill, rifle 
driQ, single stick exercise, and marching. The 
men out of debt to the government for their 
clothing, and on the first-class conduct list, 
were granted liberty. 

In April came the day when I could mus- 
ter aft on the quarter deck with the liberty 
party. Although I had no friends except 
the ones in the boarding-house, I felt a real 
sense of gladness to be once more outside the 
Navy Yard gate. It was springtime. No 
pea coat was needed. As I wended my way 
along in my blue sailor uniform, I was eon- 


ceited enough to think every person I met 
was noticing me. The Rose family wel- 
comed me. Having no money to spend, I 
remained in their company that evening, and 
at ten o'clock returned on board clean and 
sober. When the liberty party returned, 
some of the old stagers smuggled whiskey 

The Navy has changed. The battleship, 
with its comphcated machinery and numerous 
improvements, has given positions to men of 
skill. To-day, instead of the earlier type of 
man-of-war's man, our navy is more largely 
manned by young men from good homes. 
They maintain their self-respect, and much of 
that planning and scheming to smuggle liquor 
on board is becoming a thing of the past. 

Before the war with Spain, the man-of-war's 
man was seemingly shunned by people on 
shore. Now he is welcome in many places, 
and his company is acceptable. His conduct 
on shore has noticeably changed. Instead of 
the open door of vile resorts, healthy places 
of amusement and recreation are frequented 
by him. Reading-rooms, where the men can 
smoke, play games, and purchase a cup of 


coffee, are established for their sole use, and 
here they enjoy an atmosphere of compara- 
tive refinement. 

Many seamen who are far from home take 
advantage of their opportunities to see the 
best of the world, visiting places of historic 
interest, and thereby gaining knowledge of 
inestimable value to them. 

Once, while at the wharf at Hampton 
Roads, Virginia, as stroke oarsman in the 
captain's gig of the old Kearsage, I saw the 
officer of the boat enter the Hygeia Hotel. I 
followed him, thinking it would be easy to 
gain admission ; but a colored boy sneered 
at me as he said, " No enHsted men allowed 
in here," and motioned for me to leave 
the premises. I suppose the worst rascal in 
civilian's dress would have been welcomed. 
Simply because I wore the blue uniform of 
the navy, I was considered unfit to enter a 

It would require a book of itself to teU of 
the many schemes, the plots and plans, the 
queer devices, used by the old man-of-war's 
man to smuggle liquor aboard. The men 
with whom I " chummed " were all " big dis- 
charge men." Under the impression that 


they were the ideal tars, I adopted their ways 
and habits. 

A small discharge is not dishonorable. The 
difference is that a big discharge is a contin- 
uous service certificate, whereby an enlisted 
man, if he conducts himself so that at the 
expiration of his enlistment his marks in 
seamanship, gunnery, sobriety, etc., average 
a possible twenty out of twenty-five, he is 
given a continuous certificate. This entitles 
him to three months' pay, providing he reen- 
lists three months from date of discharge, 
and besides this, one dollar a month is added 
to his wages for every such discharge. 

The liquor these men brought on board 
with them was of the vilest kind. Two re- 
stricted " old-timers," who had not been on 
shore for nearly a month, were in a heated 
dispute, which developed into a fierce struggle. 
The disturbance was soon quelled, for the 
master at arms took them to the mainmast, 
where all offenders are brought before the 
officer of the deck. They were put under 
the sentry's charge on the berth deck to be 
brought before the commanding officer next 

The police duty on a warship is executed 



by the marine guard. Dressed in a soldier's 
uniform, they guard all prisoners, and watch 
the scuttle butt that no water is taken except 
for drinking. They take their place on the 
forecastle head and gangways to hail all 
boats, to prevent any one from leaving the 
ship, and to hinder citizens coming on board 
without permission from the of&cer of the 
deck. At sea the post on the forecastle head 
is removed and a marine stationed aft at the 
life buoy. 

At nine o'clock every morning, the master 
at arms, who is the chief of police, brings all 
delinquents to the mast; the officer of the 
deck sends word to the commanding officer 
that " the delinquents are at the mast." He 
appears abaft the fife rail, and in company 
with the executive officer, the officer of the 
deck, the ship's writer, and master at arms, 
listens to the charges brought against the 

Punishment is meted according to the 
offense. The man may have overstayed his 
liberty, been insolent to an officer or petty 
officer, or may have struck a shipmate. 
The different modes of punishment are as 
plentiful as the offenses. An enlisted man 


may be reduced a class or four classes in the 
conduct list, which stops his liberty on shore, 
taking a month to regain a class on the list. 
He may be given several hours' extra duty, 
which means that he must work while his 
comrades are idling about the decks. If the 
offense is serious, he may be sentenced to ten 
days' double irons, both hands and feet, on 
the berth deck under a sentry's charge, or to 
five days' bread and water in the " brig," a 
small room used as a cell for solitary confine- 
ment. The offense may require the trial of a 
general or summary court-martial. Then if 
the offender be found guilty, he must suffer 
from one month to five years' imprisonment. 
Generally, the punishment of a summary court 
is carried out on board ship, while that of a 
general court is executed in the naval prison 
in some United States Navy Yard. 

At the forward end of the berth deck on 
the Wabash there are four " brigs," with a 
small porthole in each. 

Next morning my two comrades were sen- 
tenced to five days' bread and water in soli- 
tary confinement. Not realizing the need of 
strictest discipline on a war vessel, and that, 
for being drunk on duty as these men had 


been, their punisliment was light, it seemed 
to me very cruel to keep them confined and 
hungry for five days. So I decided to feed 
them. At meal hours I would collect pieces 
of meat and bread, and a beer bottle of cof- 
fee. Fastening the end of a ball of spun 
yarn on the parcel of food, I would await a 
favorable opportunity, and secreting myself 
in the fore chains, would lower the food on 
a line with the portholes in each brig. The 
men expected it, and quickly drew the par- 
cels into their cells. The beer bottles were 
concealed in the cells, and when the prisoners 
were taken on deck, which happened every 
four hours, I removed the empty bottles. 

I knew that if detected my punishment 
would be worse than theirs, but I was not 
discovered. When the sentence was served 
and the men returned to duty, we became 
close friends. From them I learned much of 
a man-of-war's man's hfe. As they had no 
liberty, but money to spend, they gave me a 
portion of their store to waste for them, in 
return for which I was to smuggle a bottle 
of liquor on board. While this is not an 
offense on a merchantman, it is a very seri- 
ous thing if detected on a warship. 


The bottom of the trousers leg is wide 
enough to conceal a flask securely fastened 
to the limb above the ankle. These old 
salts showed me the exact place to lash the 
bottle so that the corporal at the gangway 
would not feel it when searching me on my 
return. Fortunately, there were several men 
returning from hberty when I mounted the 
gangway. The corporal was hurried in his 
search. He felt the folds of my shirt and 
ran his hands along the outside of my trou- 
sers. Then he passed me on to report my 
return to the officer of the deck. I walked 
forward, and gave my first smuggled bottle 
of liquor to the two " old soaks." 

As the spring opened, we began to clean 
the old ship. The rigging was tarred and 
the mast and yards painted. Then orders 
came from Washington to dismantle her. 
Rigged as a full-rigged ship, lower and top- 
sail yards crossed, although roofed over, the 
old Wabash had a dignified, warhke appear- 
ance. Standing on the shore at night, the 
lights on deck shining through her gun ports 
resembled the lights of a distant city. Some 
of the old sailors growled at the work of dis- 
mantling her. Others thought it sacrilege 
to dismantle so fine a ship. 


For two weeks, attired in white working 
clothes, we wore off that lazy, tired feeling 
that comes from doing nothing, by stripping 
the old " warrior " to her lower mast. It 
would have been easy work but for the 
wooden roof covering the whole spar deck. 
As it was, we had to rig a purchase from 
the shore to the ship, and haul the heavy 
yards clear of the eaves to get them over the 
side. All the gear aloft was stiff and rusty 
for want of use. Still, she was stripped of 
her beauty without an accident ; the decks 
were holystoned and cleaned, and the routine 
of drill and loafing around the decks was 

The method of holystoning the deck of a 
warship is easier than that on an old " wind- 
jammer." Here, instead of kneeling and rub- 
bing a small stone on the deck, a strap is 
fastened around a large stone, two pieces of 
rope are spliced to the strap, and a man on 
each rope's end hauls the stone backward 
and forward. A third man guides it along 
the deck with a long stick. 

During the early part of May, orders came 
to transfer all the recruits to the guard-ship 
Vermont at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We 


hustled and made preparations for leaving. 
The paymaster's accounts were signed, and 
we were put on board the tug and conveyed 
to a landing near the Old Colony Depot. 
The old Wabash seemed deserted. Only a 
few men were left, those who had enlisted for 
one year to do special service on that partic- 
ular ship. 

Some of the men had friends in Boston 
who had come to the station to see them off. 
Though the marines and officers vigilantly 
watched every movement to prevent any one 
from obtaining liquor, yet several men were 
amply supplied. Seated at the car windows 
before the train started, the splendid catches 
of the men as they stopped the speed of the 
bottles thrown them would have qualified 
them as " catchers " on any baseball team. 

With no disturbance except the heavy rolls 
of a few old tars who were doing their best 
to hold up with their load, we reached the 
deck of the old Vermont. There were several 
warships at the cob dock. 

Just before sunset I was on the dock close 
to the U. S. S. Juniata. I heard the whistle 
of the boatswain's mate, and then his loud 
voice yelling, " All hands down to'gallant and 


royal yards, and to'gallant masts." Slie was 
bark-rigged. In a moment every man was at 
his station. The executive officer stood on 
the poop deck and gave his orders. First, 
" To'gallant and royal yard men on the 
sheer pole." At this the Hght yard men 
were in the rigging. Then came the order, 
" Topmen on the sheer poles. Aloft, to'- 
gallant and royal yard men. Aloft, topmen." 
Like monkeys in a forest these nimble fel- 
lows ran up the rathnes till they reached their 
stations aloft. 

It astonished me to see how quickly they 
ran aloft. When the executive officer said, 
" Stand by," and the drummer boy was told 
to " roU off," the whole manoeuvre was more 
than my slow-going saiHng-ship experience 
could grasp. The shrill whistle, the roll of 
the drum, the sound of the bugle, mingled 
with the voices of the men, completely con- 
fused me. I had sent down a yard on a 
merchantman which had required much time 
and labor. Here, in a few moments, they had 
stripped this vessel to her topmast. I could 
not understand how they did it. 

Presently, my old friend, Pavoor, hove in 
sight. I headed him off, and had him explain 


it all to me. He readily revealed the use of 
the strap and toggle. An iron grommet, on 
which the lifts and braces are hooked, fits 
over the yardarm. A strap and toggle holds 
the yard rope to the quarter of the yard, and 
a tripping line, having a snotter made of flat 
sennit attached to it, pulls the lower Hft and 
brace off, and guides the yard on its way to 
the deck. 

At the command, " Stand by," the trip- 
ping line is let go from the slings of the 
yard, and at the order, " Sway," the yard 
rope, being hooked out to the quarter of the 
yard, trips the yard as the men on deck haul 
on it. The light yard men quickly catch the 
grommets as they leave the yardarms, and 
hook them to small hooks in the crosstrees 
and royal jacks placed there for that purpose. 
Of course this necessitates having lifts reach- 
ing to the deck. While in port, the foot- 
ropes on the light yards are forward of the 
mast, and no parrel lashings are passed ; the 
short tyes are always unrove, and the yard 
rope is rove through a gin block hooked to 
the iron funnel on which the eyes of the rig- 
ging are placed. 

All the rigging is fitted over these iron 


funnels, and when the weight of the yards is 
off the yard ropes, a pull on the mast rope 
enables the topgallant yard men to haul out 
the mast fid, and down comes the naked 
mast. As the truck leaves the topmost cap, 
a turn of a running Hzard on the standing 
part of the mast rope is passed around the 
masthead, which holds the mast upright in 
its descent. The funnels with the rigging 
around them rest on each other all on the 
topmost cap. Next morning a man goes 
aloft on each mast and straightens out every- 
thing in readiness for sending the mast and 
yards aloft. 

I understood all of this man-of-war sea- 
manship, and could see by the yards in the 
lower rigging and the mast on deck, the full- 
ness of Pavoor's instructions. Yet I hoped 
that when it came my turn to be drafted to 
a sea-going ship, I should not be stationed 
on a hght yard before having an opportunity 
to examine the rig aloft. 

I had been on the Vermont about a week 
when one day, at dinner, the boatswain's mate 
blew his whistle and bawled, " Now do you 
hear there." At this everybody was quiet, 
and he went on, " All you men whose names 


I call go down to the paymaster's office and 
sign your accounts." My name was among 
the twenty-five. We knew we were drafted 
for some ship ; whether in the Brooklyn 
Navy Yard or not, we could not tell. I gath- 
ered with the others at the paymaster's office, 
signed my accounts, and was told to be ready 
to leave for Norfolk, Va., to join the U. S. S. 
Alhance. In charge of an ensign and a ship's 
corporal, we started on the Old Dominion for 

Next afternoon we reached the dock and 
were taken in a steam launch alongside the 
AUiance. With bags and hammocks we mus- 
tered on the quarter deck in the presence of 
Commander McGregor. I felt shaky when 
Lieutenant-Commander George E. Ide, the 
executive officer, told me my number was 
264, and that I was main topgallant yard 
man. Stowing my bag below on the berth 
deck and my hammock in the netting, worry- 
ing about the method of sending the topgal- 
lant yard aloft in the morning, I reported to 
the captain of the maintop as one of his men. 




The Alliance was a third-rate corvette, 
bark-rigged, with single topsail yards. She 
was armed with four nine-inch smooth-bore 
guns of the old-fashioned muzzle-loading or- 
der, one muzzle-loading eight-inch rifle, and 
a rifled sixty-pounder on the forecastle head. 
Aside from the regular complement of officers 
and " blue jackets," she rated a guard of 
marines, officered by Lieutenant Allan C. 

It was Sunday evening when we arrived 
on board. During the few moments remain- 
ing before sunset, I roamed around the decks 
making myself famihar with the ship, and 
forming acquaintances among the men. 

At five o'clock we were piped to supper. 
At the first toot of the whistle every man 
made a dash for the berth deck. This was 
a small space extending from the forward 
end of the fire-room to the bulkhead of the 


sick bay. Here the whole crew messed. The 
place was too small to admit the use of mess 
tables, so each mess had a painted piece of 
canvas called a mess cloth, which was spread 
on deck, and the pots and pans placed on the 
outer edges. The big pan of hash, or meat, 
or whatever it might be, was placed in the 
centre of the cloth, and as the men were piped 
to supper, each took a pan and pot and helped 
himself. Then the man moved to some part 
of the berth deck where he could find a seat, 
or perhaps he might take his pan on to the 
spar deck, and finding a seat on his ditty-box, 
eat his meal. 

I owned a ditty-box. Indeed, a man-of- 
war's man would feel lonesome without one, 
for here he keeps his sewing gear and his 
pipe and tobacco. It is everything to him. 
As soon as I had prunes and bread enough, 
and a pot of tea, I made for the spar deck, 
found my ditty-box, and seated myself on the 
top of the topgallant forecastle. No sooner 
was I seated than the captain of the forecas- 
tle greeted me with, " What part of the ship 
do you b'long to ? " " Maintop," I replied. 
" Well, look here, sonny, you must eat your 
grub in the starboard gangway where you 


b'long. Don't come up here and spill your 
grease on this deck." "I'm not spilling any 
grease." "Well, don't eat up here anyway." 

I now learned that the men when not on 
duty were supposed to loaf in their own parts 
of the ship, — the forecastle men on the top 
and under the topgallant forecastle, the fore- 
top men in the port gangway, and the main- 
top men in the starboard ; the after-guards, 
idlers, and marines wherever they could find 
a congenial spot. 

At sunset the drummer rolled off, the 
bugler sounded colors, while the boatswain's 
mates trilled their whistles and yelled, "Stand 
by your hammocks." All hands mustered to 
the side of the ship to receive them. My 
hammock hooks were on the starboard side 
of the berth deck, as I was a maintop man. 
When I got below, I found the berth deck 
crowded with hammocks packed as closely as 
sardines in a box. I hunted for hook 264, 
and found that to have room in which to 
sleep, I was forced to sling my hammock 
under those on each side of me. Though 
a cramped position in which to sleep, I soon 
became used to it. 

The topgallant and royal yards were in the 


lower rigging, so next morning I went aloft 
with my opposite number in the starboard 
watch and eagerly examined the gear and 
made everything ready for recei^dng the yards 
at eight o'clock. At half past seven the 
executive officer took the deck. A few 
minutes before eight all hands were called 
to cross topgallant and royal yards. At the 
command, " Light yard men aloft," I made 
my way up as nimbly as any one. Without 
a hitch, the main topgallant yard was rigged 
as quickly as any of the others. Puffing and 
blowing, I was in the crosstrees as soon as 
my opposite number, and was kept topgallant 
yard man the whole of the cruise. 

I had been on the Alhance two days when 
BiU Reid, captain of the hold, came off liberty 
half drunk. Lieutenant L. K. Reynolds had 
the deck, and had given orders to the master 
at arms not to allow him any beer. A bum- 
boat woman supplied the ship with bottled 
beer. A half hour before meals the master 
at arms, or ship's corporal, stood near the 
boxes to see that we drank only our allowance, 
a bottle before each meal. I had begun to 
drink mine when Reid asked me for a swal- 
low. Not knowing that his beer was re- 


stricted, I handed him the bottle. The mas- 
ter at arms quickly took it from him and or- 
dered me to the mast. Lieutenant Reynolds 
put my name on the report. When brought 
before Commander McGregor, he sentenced 
me to be put on the fifth-class conduct list, 
"which meant no hberty for three months. 

I felt severely wronged, and made up my 
mind to take liberty whenever I had oppor- 
tunity, which I did both in Norfolk and 
New York. I secretly left the ship, and re- 
turned without having been missed. I took 
a dislike to the master at arms, and during 
the whole cruise he was my evil genius. He 
watched every chance to report against me, 
but my day came when, stripped of his brass 
buttons, I clinched with him on an equal foot- 
ing and whipped him. 

We remained in Norfolk most of the sum- 
mer, and then sailed to Newport, R. I., to 
adjust our compasses before starting on our 
cruise. Previous to our departure we called 
at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to receive our 
stores, and to assemble at anchor in the bay 
with other warships, on the occasion of the 
lighting of the Statue of Liberty. All the 
ships at the Navy Yard of all grades and 


classes, from the old Minnesota to the small- 
est tugboat, were assembled, beautifully 
dressed in bunting. The whole harbor pre- 
sented a grand and brilliant display of flags. 

In the afternoon the U. S. S. Dolphin, 
bearing the President of the United States 
and the Secretary of the Navy, was steaming 
in towards the anchorage. As she passed the 
first ship, a storm of artillery fire greeted her. 
Gun after gun in rapid succession sounded 
one prolonged roar. At this moment the 
yards of all the ships were manned, life fines 
reached from the lifts to the tyes, so that 
we could stand on the yards and touch each 
other's hands. In this exalted position I 
watched the course of our honored guest. 

A few days after this, we cast off our fines 
from the cob dock ; the steam hissed, the en- 
gines groaned, the propeller stirred a lather 
of foam under the stern, and the Alfiance 
started on a three years' cruise, assigned to 
the South Atlantic Station. Gradually we 
glided toward Sandy Hook, and an hour after 
we crossed the bar we spread our canvas to 
the soft westerly breeze. Moving to the east- 
ward, we took our last lingering look at the 
land disappearing beneath the horizon. 


It would have been a matter of forty or 
fifty days for us to reach " Rio " and report 
to the flagship of the station, but we were 
detailed to do a special work on our way. The 
captain of a whaling schooner had sold his 
vessel to a Doctor Wilson, who lived on the 
Island of Johanna, one of the Comoros, in 
the northern end of the Mozambique Channel. 
We were ordered to proceed through the 
Suez Canal and search for this schooner ; 
therefore it was fully nine months when we 
sailed round the Cape of Good Hope on our 
way to South America. 

On the fourth day out, we were well into 
the Gulf Stream. The westerly breeze in- 
creased to a moderate gale with a choppy sea. 
Several of the crew, landsmen and marines 
who had never before been out of sight of 
land, afforded much amusement to the sea- 
soned tars. We tossed and plunged, rolled 
and heaved, causing the seasick " joskins '* 
to be unutterably miserable. Strange gym- 
nastic performances took place on the berth 
deck. The seasick fellows stowed themselves 
in every secluded corner, and envied us as 
we tumbled and scrambled after the " dishes 
running away with the spoons." Until they 


gained their " sea legs," stanchions and bul- 
■warks were hugged most affectionately. 

A cold and cheerless rain set in, which con- 
verted the clean, pleasant, though small berth 
deck into a very disagreeable abiding-place. 
Every man not on duty retreated into the re- 
gions below, glad to find shelter. At seven 
bells, the time to lay the mess cloths, it was 
an effort for " Jimmy Legs " and his corporal 
to chase the crowd on deck to make room for 
the mess cooks. 

The first evening: of the bad weather the 
topgallant sails were stowed and the topsails 
single-reefed. As we manned the halyards 
to sway up the main topsail yard, I led off on 
an old deep-water chanty, " A Long Time 
Ago." A few sailing-ship sailors joined in 
the refrain. We had sung one verse when 
the officer of the deck. Lieutenant Hanson 
Tyler, got hold of me by the shoulders. 

" Here, what do you mean ? Where do 
you think you are ? " 

" I thought, sir, it would make the yard 
fly aloft to sing ^ A Long Time Ago.' " 

" Well, we don't have chanties in the navy. 
The boatswain's mate's whistle will do all 
that. Let it be a long time ago before you 
sing another." 


We sailed into favorable -weather, and the 
days flew by. There is not much variety on 
a man-of-war at sea. Each day has its exer- 
cises, and every hour its duties. The calls 
are as regular and the movements as sure as 
though we were all parts of one great ma- 
chine. Instead of one man on the forecastle 
head to keep the lookout, there were fully 
half a dozen stations at night. With all sails 
set, at the stroke of the bell every half hour, 
the lookout on the starboard side of the fore- 
castle head shouted, " Starboard cathead, 
bright light." Then the next man, " Port 
cathead, bright Hght." The royals set, the 
men stationed at the halyards would con- 
tinue the solemn sound, " Fore royal hal- 
yards." " Main royal halyards." At last 
the marine at the life buoy hanging over the 
taffrail aft ended with, " Life buoy, all 's 
well." So long as we had neither a wheel, 
a station at the halyards, nor a lookout, we 
might snooze away our watch on deck on the 
soft side of a deck plank. 

The caterer of the petty officers' mess was 
dissatisfied with the mess cook. He offered 
me two government rations (eighteen dollars 
a month) if I would take charge of the mess 


and endeavor to give satisfaction. Instead 
of drawing the food for all the men, the pay- 
master of the ship gave in money the value 
of one ration for every fifth man. Thus, 
there were twenty-four men in the petty of&- 
cers' mess. The caterer received the money 
for five, and drew provisions for the remain- 
ing nineteen. With the two dollars a month 
which each man " chipped in," and the five 
rations, forty-five dollars, the caterer could 
afford to pay me the value of two rations, 
and have enough money to purchase from 
the shore potatoes, milk, and dainties for his 

I accepted the call to go on the berth 
deck. My good friend, " Yank Peterson," 
captain of the maintop, grumbled a little, 
and disapproved of my leaving the deck, but 
was pacified when I told him I would still 
run his topgallant yard when in port. On 
the berth deck I was under the eye of the 
master at arms. I kept the mess clean, so 
that at inspection he could find no cause for 

We must have been out about two weeks 
when we sighted the Azores, and came to 
anchor in Fayal Harbor. Here we coaled, 


proceeded on to sea, and within another week 
were in sight of the coast of Spain. One fine 
morning we entered the Straits of Gibraltar, 
through which the wind raged as through a 
pair of giant bellows, and anchored in the 
bay at the foot of the great towering for- 
tress. During our few days' stay here, the 
men on the first-class conduct list were given 
sunset liberty. I had heard much about 
the " Rock," but now because of the mean- 
ness of the master at arms' report against me 
in Norfolk, I could not have liberty with the 

The caterers were allowed on shore to pur- 
chase stores for their messes. My stores 
came, and I began to empty a sack of flour. 
The caterer seemed disturbed, and tried to 
hinder me. "Jimmy Legs'" suspicions were 
aroused, and he took hold of the flour bag 
and emptied it. No wonder the caterer was 
anxious, for packed in the flour were two 
bottles of liquor and a " square face " of gin. 
We were both ordered to the mast. We 
pleaded ignorance. We did not know the 
liquor was there — probably the merchant 
was making it a present to the men. 

" Oh, yes," said Captain McGregor in a 


sarcastic tone, "1 know these Dagoes are 
very generous." But as nothing could be 
proved against us, we were dismissed, and the 
liquor emptied over the side. 

In a few days we were on our way to 
Malta. Togerson, a sailor in the forecastle, 
was a good man. Although ridiculed and 
buffeted by almost everybody, called " Holy 
Joe " and the " Psalm Singer," yet he was 
morally strong enough to withstand it all. 
By his sweet, patient spirit and Christian 
life he not only made two converts, but also 
gained the respect of the whole crew. The 
forenoon we made the island of Malta, these 
three professing Christians were by the fife 
rail around the foremast, reading the story 
of Paul's shipwreck. I became interested, 
especially when Togerson explained that this 
was the place where the wreck occurred. 
Boldly and fearlessly these three knelt in 
prayer, and gave thanks for being allowed 
to see this land. 

As we drew near the famous old roadstead 
with its numerous impregnable and formid- 
able fortresses and batteries, we could see the 
vessels at anchor in the bay. We passed the 
entrance to the harbor of Valeta, and shortly 


afterward moored near the English ironclad 
squadron. Soon we were surrounded with 
boats loaded with birds, silks, bird-feathers, 
and curios of all kinds. At dinner time 
our deck was like an Oriental street, for the 
Arabs spread out their wares on both sides 
of the deck to tempt the eyes of the seamen. 
The war vessels are the life and business of 
the place, creating sufficient trade to atone 
for days of stagnation. The peddlers work 
like bees in summer to provide for times of 
inactivity. Merchants in aU seaports pray 
earnestly for the arrival of a war vessel or 

Each man had two hammocks. Once a 
month the clean ones were brought on deck 
at evening quarters, and each division officer 
had them served to his men. The following 
morning the dirty hammocks were scrubbed 
and hung on the clothes-line to dry. When 
the boatswain's mates pipe, " Stand by your 
scrubbed hammocks," the men get on deck 
to remove them from the line, taking care to 
keep them clean so that they will pass inspec- 
tion at evening quarters. 

We scrubbed our hammocks in Malta. 
That day I reached first-class conduct list, so 


my name was on the liberty list to leave the 
ship at five o'clock. At about three we were 
called to stand by our scrubbed hammocks. 

Now during the day several men had 
bought liquor from the Arabs. I purchased 
a plentiful supply. The berth deck cooks 
had been washing the white paint on their 
deck. My blue suit was besmeared with 
soapsuds. In this filthy state I hurriedly 
reached the port side of the quarter deck, 
where above me on the Hne my scrubbed 
hammock was hung to dry. Unfortunately 
the first lieutenant saw me. " King, what 
do you mean by coming here so dirty look- 
ing ? " At any other time I would have 
held my peace and sneaked quickly forward. 
Indeed, had I been in my right mind, I 
would not have gone aft in that condition. 
But the Arabs' " fire-water " had control of 
me. I sullenly replied, " Do you suppose I 
can scrub paint on the berth deck and be 
as clean as you are ? " Before I could take 
a half dozen steps, he shouted, " Master at 
arms, bring King to the mast." Here he 
saw that it was liquor which made me inso- 
lent. Turning to the ship's writer, he said, 
"Isn't King on the liberty list?" "Yes, 


sir." " Take his name off and put his name 
on the report for being untidy around the 

I had tried hard to gain the first-class con- 
duct hst. Now I was on the report. This 
meant a reduction of class conduct which 
would prevent my visiting the shores of 
Malta. I walked forward and motioned to 
a Maltese boatman to haul under the fore 
chains. Throwing a rope's end over the 
side, I slid down to the boat and concealed 
myself under the bow. Halfway to the 
shore, the miserable Maltese wanted me to 
pay him a sovereign. After making him 
understand that I would stand up, hail the 
ship, and have him arrested for conveying 
me to shore in this clandestine manner, he 
continued sculling, and landed me for five 
shillings. Now I was surrounded on all sides 
by the beggars of the town. They seem to 
earn a hving merely by following strangers 
all day and begging from them in their 
peculiar dialect. This is based on the Arabic, 
mixed with plenty of French, Italian, and 
EngHsh. I met several of my shipmates who 
were overstaying their liberty, and with them 
enjoyed the sights of the city. 


During three days on shore, I was in con- 
stant fear of arrest, as the captain had offered 
ten dollars each for the capture of several 
men breaking their liberty. On the second 
day, to escape the eyes of a pohceman who 
had been watching me, I kej)t with a few 
" blue jackets " and marines who had just 
come on liberty. This little company were 
the total abstainers of the ship. Having no 
desire to frequent the dives, they made their 
way to the better part of the town. At first 
I thought they did not care for my company, 
but one of them locked arms with me, and 
away we went to St. John's Cathedral. This 
is the principal temple of the Knights of 
Malta, and decidedly the most interesting spot 
on the island. We entered the many chapels 
of the Knights, with their numerous superb 
mausoleums of Grand Masters. These, of 
bronze, copper, and marble, all manifest the 
highest perfection of art. At every corner 
we were besieged by the Maltese guides, who 
caused us much annoyance, and it took all 
our efforts to rid ourselves of their compan- 

The next day, a pohceman saw me as I was 
leaving the door of a house in the lower dis- 


trict, stopped me, and began to examine my 
hands and face. The tattooed marks on my 
hands and arms satisfied him, and he placed 
the irons on my wrists and walked me to the 
station house. Sure enough, I answered the 
descriptive hst they had of me. With three 
others who had been arrested for overstaying 
their liberty, I was rowed off to the Alliance. 
On reaching the deck, the two policemen 
were paid the rewards of ten dollars for each 
man, which sum was charged to our accounts. 
We were put below on the berth deck under 
the sentry's charge. 

Next morning, when the delinquents were 
brought to the mast, Commander McGregor 
ordered my case tried by a summary court- 
martial. Again I was put under the sentry's 
charge, and four days after. Ensign Eaton 
handed me a copy of the specifications and 
charges. In due time I was tried by a court 
of our officers held in the cabin. On the 
tenth day, the boatswain's mates' whistles 
blew, and the call came, " All hands to mus- 

Every officer and enlisted man mustered 
aft on the quarter deck while the master at 
arms walked me along to the mainmast. 


Here the executive officer, in the presence of 
the commanding officer and the whole crew, 
read the following specifications and charges, 
and the sentence of the court. He began : 

" Specification of offenses preferred by 
Commander McGregor, commanding U. S. S. 
Alliance, against Stanton H. King, ordinary 
seaman, U. S. Navy. 

" Specification. 

"In that said Stanton H. King, an ordi- 
nary seaman in the United States Navy, 
attached to and serving on board the U. S. S. 
Alliance in the harbor of Valeta, Malta, did 

on the day of eighteen hundred 

and eighty-six, without permission, leave the 
same said ship. 

" Approved McGregor, 

Commander TJ. S. Navy, 
Commanding TJ. S. S. Alliance." 

After reading the specification the execu- 
tive officer continued : — 

" The court finds the specification proved. 
The court does therefore sentence him, the 
said Stanton H. King, ordinary seaman, 
U. S. Navy, to the following punishment : — 

" Solitary confinement in double irons, 
on bread and water, for thirty days, with full 


ration every fifth day. To perform extra 
police duties for one month, and to lose thirty 
days' pay, amounting to nineteen dollars. 

" The proceedings and sentence in the case 
of Stanton H. King, ordinary seaman, U. S. 
Navy, are approved. 

" That part of the sentence which involves 
loss of pay is respectfully referred to the 
Honorable Secretary of Navy. 


ComTYiander U. S. Navy, 
Commanding U. S. S. Alliance." 

Here let me say that to all such loss of 
pay the Honorable Secretary of the Navy 
always gave his approval. The executive 
officer then gave the order to pipe down, and 
for the master at arms to carry out the sen- 
tence. Once more on the berth deck, the 
irons were fastened on my wrists and ankles, 
and I was locked in the "brig " to begin my 



The " brig " was a small space about six 
feet square. Its four sides were made of iron 
plate in which holes about the size of a man's 
little finger were perforated. Through these 
the cell was ventilated. As the berth deck 
had not an over-abundance of light, it was 
impossible for light enough to penetrate 
through the holes for a prisoner to read. In 
fact, a prisoner in the " brig " was not al- 
lowed a book. The only pastime was to 
walk around the foremast in the centre of 
the " brig " and to peep through the holes, 
interesting himself in what was taking place 
on the berth deck. Every four hours during 
the day, beginning at seven in the morning, 
the prisoners were taken on deck and the 
hand irons removed while we were allowed to 
wash ourselves. Then we were marched 
back, taking the step the short chain on the 
feet irons would allow, to our places on the 

IN THE "BRIG" 263 

berth deck. The hardest part of the punish- 
ment was the restriction in the use of tobacco. 
As there was no way to obtain a smoke, we 
were forced to resort to chewing the weed. 

To a prisoner who has no friends on board, 
bread and water for thirty days is a severe 
punishment, for hard biscuit and a tin pot of 
water are not very palatable. I had helped 
other unfortunates confined in the " brig," 
and now the kindness was returned. Occa- 
sionally I would hear a whisper on the side op- 
posite the sentry, " King, take hold of this." 
Then through the hole in the iron partition 
strips of meat, bananas, figs, and other dain- 
ties were passed in to me by my shipmates. 

An apprentice took a condensed milk can, 
bored a hole in the side near the bottom, and 
soldered the end of a tin flute to the hole. 
This unique funnel was kept hidden, and was 
used only by certain ones when they were 
"in durance vile." The third day a whis- 
pering voice called me to the holes in the 
forward partition. " King, I want you to 
swear that if we let you into our secret you 
will not reveal it when released." " Never, 
old fellow." " Good enough. I will be here 
while the wrestling match is taking place." 


This lad arranged it so that during the 
evening hours before pipe down, all the men's 
attention was devoted to singing, boxing, 
wrestling, or some amusement on the spar 
deck near the fore hatch. While this fun 
was going on, the tube of the funnel was in- 
serted into one of the holes in my cell, and I 
was given all the coffee or tea I wanted. Long, 
thin sausages were purchased from the bum- 
boat men, and the end of a boiled one would 
occasionally be pointed through a hole to me. 
" Hand over hand " I would haul it in. One 
evening, the sentry saw the tail end of a sau- 
sage disappearing. He thought it a snake, 
and made a cut for it with his bayonet. To 
his surprise, he had a few inches of sausage. 
The joke was so immense he was convulsed 
with laughter. He was a good-natured fel- 
low and knew he was observed by only a few 
of us, so that he was in no danger of being 
detected in not reporting us. Sometimes the 
sentries were lenient, for they, like us, might 
be incarcerated for some slight misconduct. 

A man is not a criminal because he is con- 
fined in chains or in the " brig " on a man- 
of-war. For a slight offense, that would go 
unnoticed in civil life, an enlisted man is 

m THE "BRIG" 265 

sentenced to such punishment. I have seen 
a chain gang of fourteen men on the berth 
deck. Some were the best men in the ship, 
but had overstayed liberty, or committed 
some petty misdemeanor. 

The coffee funnel was always in demand. 
It did service for fully two years. Then one 
of our crowd was made master at arms and 
revealed our secret, or it would not have been 
brought to light. The commanding officer 
was surprised when it was taken aft for his 
inspection. I rather suspect he thought it 
mean of the master at arms to expose the in- 
strument that had served him when, as a 
" blue shirt," he had been a prisoner in the 

We had sailed from Malta and were in the 
harbor of Port Said before my sentence ex- 
pired. Again reduced to the fifth-class con- 
duct list, my liberty was restricted. Through 
the Suez Canal and the Red Sea we steered 
for Aden, where we expected to spend a week 
at least. Liberty was given all classes, and as 
stroke oarsman in the whaleboat, I had an 
opportunity of seeing as much of Aden as I 

From this place we proceeded to Zanzibar. 


As we came to anchor near a fleet of German 
warships, we were called to get our scrapers 
and remove the flying-fish scales and brains 
from our black-painted sides. The fish must 
have made a target of the ship, for she was 
the color of a speckled hen. For three hours 
we worked in the hot sun scraping off scales 
and painting her. It is only a couple of 
hours' work to cover the outside of a man-of- 
war with black paint. Each part takes its 
allotted space, and rigging a stage over the 
side, we quickly daub the surface with woolen 
rags smothered in paint. Only in places 
where there is " gingerbread " work is a brush 

We had sail and spar drill every morning 
and evening. The executive officer delighted 
to show the Germans how quickly we could 
cross our yards and make all sail. As main 
topgallant yard man, I did my best at my 
station and so pleased the first lieutenant. I 
was tired of being in the maintop and wanted 
a change to some other part of the ship. I 
made my desire known to the "first luff." 
To my delight, he told me he wanted me on 
the main topgallant yard, and if I behaved 
myself, he intended to give me the first vacant 
seaman's rate. 

IN THE "BRIG" 267 

Nowhere have I seen the water as clear and 
transparent as in Zanzibar. Looking over 
the side, we could see the stones and sand at 
the bottom in six or seven fathoms of water. 
From Zanzibar we continued our search for 
the whaHng schooner. We sighted the Co- 
moro Islands, and came to anchor on the lee 
side of Johanna, close to a cluster of huts 
which was the seaport of the place. The 
natives were ignorant of the value of money. 
They brought off fruit, chickens, eggs, and 
turtles in their canoes, and were better satis- 
fied with a polished copper cent, a brass but- 
ton from a marine's coat, or an old piece of 
clothing than they were with money. The 
marines lost several buttons, and two appren- 
tices served five days' bread and water for 
robbing the " sea soldiers " of their uniform 

One morning a list of names to man the 
first and second cutters was posted on the 
bulletin board. To my surprise, I was hsted 
for the first cutter with nine others who were 
considered hard cases. After breakfast the 
cutters were called away, and word passed for 
the men whose names were on the bulletin 
board to man them. In the second cutter 


were men who seemingly could be trusted to 
give strong drink a wide berth. 

Away we started for the shore, in charge 
of the executive and two junior officers. 
When we made a landing, the " first luff " 
took the second cutter's men and an officer 
with him, in search of Doctor Wilson's plan- 
tation. He left the crew of the first cutter 
in charge of Ensign Sutphen, with orders 
not to allow us to leave his sight. 

It was long after dinner time. We were 
hungry. One after another, we walked a 
little way from the boat as though gathering 
shells. At a given signal, when Mr. Sutphen's 
back was turned, we bolted for the bushes 
and kept on running till we were some dis- 
tance away. 

We met a native boy who understood when 
we said " Doctor Wilson," and motioned us 
to climb the hill. We compelled him to guide 
us for fully three miles over hills and through 
bushes, till we came in sight of the plantation. 
We could see some of the second cutter's crew, 
and beckoning to them, we were soon together. 
Away from the sight of the officers, we se- 
creted ourselves in a banana grove, and with 
an abundant supply of liquor, purchased from 

.IN THE "BRIG" 269 

the natives of the plantation, began our 

I do not know what happened next, but 
about midnight I found myself with five un- 
fortunate shipmates on the berth deck under 
the sentry's charge. Next day we were sen- 
tenced to ten days' double irons on the berth 
deck, and to pay six rupees each, which money 
the first Heutenant had paid the natives for 
conveying us from the plantation to the boats. 
My comrades told me the " first luff " was 
greatly annoyed when he discovered that, 
besides the try-pots and whaling implements 
of the schooner which he had confiscated on 
the plantation, he had to care for a helpless 

After calling at Mayotte and other Comoro 
Islands, we headed for Mauritius, and here 
found our prize. Hauled up a creek, her 
seams wide open, dried by the hot sun, and 
beaten by every storm, she was a wreck unfit 
for sea ; insomuch that the captain decided 
to let the useless hulk remain where it was. 

I had made a close friend of Coleman, one 
of the marines ; in fact, he was my chum. 
As no liberty was given in Mauritius, and 
there was but little intercourse with the 


shore, I was surprised to find Coleman under 
the influence of Hquor. Finding me on the 
forecastle head, he took my hand, saying, 
" King, old boy, I 'm going to desert." Be- 
fore I could dissuade him, he threw a rope's 
end over the side, and let himself slide into 
the sea. As he struck the water, I was by 
his side. 

We were moored head and stern up an 
inlet which was perhaps a half mile wide. 
From our mooring-place it was quite two 
hundred yards to the nearest shore. It was 
raining, and the awnings were housed, which 
prevented the sentry seeing the phospho- 
rescent wake we made as we struck out for 
the beach. 

I knew that sharks had been caught in 
this anchorage, but all fears of such enemies 
were forgotten when Coleman cried, " Oh, 
King, I 'm sinking ! " 

Now was the time for me to exercise the 
skill of my early boyhood training in the 

" No, no, old fellow, put your hands on 
my shoulders, and rest yourself." He held 
on a few moments, a heavy drag on me. 

" Take off your shoes, Coleman." 


IN THE "BRIG" 271 

" I can't ; they are too tightly laced." 

Taking my knife from the lanyard around 
my neck, I dove for his feet, and released 
him from his heavy soldiers' shoes. Then 
hauling off his trousers and blouse, I rolled 
them with my blue uniform into a bundle, 
and tied them into my silk neckerchief. 

With Coleman holding the bundle in one 
hand, while with the other he rested himself 
on my shoulder, we struggled for the shore. 
Now and again he would ease up on me and 
do some paddling for himself. Oh, the relief 
when he said, " I 'm on the bottom " ! 

Shorter than he, I could not touch bottom 
with my feet. Exhausted, and bleeding at 
the nostrils and ears, I held on to my friend 
while he waded in to the beach. For fully 
an hour we remained quiet, till we had 
strength enough to wring the water from 
our clothes. 

The place was barren, with not a sign of a 
house or any habitation. For two miles we 
trudged along the country road on our way 
to town. I tried to persuade my chum to 
return to the ship, but to no purpose. He 
disliked his duties on shipboard, and wanted 
a change. 


As we drew near the landing where the 
boats were moored, I bade Coleman good-by, 
and bargained with a boatman to row me to 
the ship, offering him my blue uniform suit 
for his trouble. But he was afraid of being 
detected, and therefore hesitated. The only 
agreement we could reach was for him to 
pass by the ship at a safe distance while I 
swam the rest of the way. 

As we came near the Alliance, the sentry 
hailed us — " Boat ahoy." 

The boatman made no reply, but rowed on 
as if he had some business in the bay. I 
lowered myself over the stern sheets, leaving 
my clothes with the boatman, and at about 
midnight was alone in the sea. Cautiously 
I swam for the bow, reached the mooring 
chains, climbed to the hawse pipe, and lifting 
myself up by the head stays, clambered into 
the head. The sentry saw me. " What are 
you doing there ? " 

" Having a salt water bath." 

"Well, go below; you can't bathe this 
time of night." 

^' Very good, Sam." 

I sneaked under the forecastle head, awoke 
one of the men on anchor watch, and had him 

IN THE "BRIG" 273 

bring me some clothing. Once dressed, I 
turned into my hammock. I almost wished 
I had remained with my chum. But of all 
things, desertion was abominable to me. I 
could not bring myself to think it anything 
but dishonorable to relinquish voluntarily my 
rights as an American citizen by deserting 
from my adopted country's flag. 

We had not been missed. The next morn- 
ing the master at arms reported Coleman 
missing, and he was booked as a deserter. 

After a stay of a couple of weeks in 
Mauritius, we exhibited the stars and stripes 
to the natives of Madagascar and along the 
east coast of Africa, calling into many of 
their numerous seaports for a short stay. 
At most of these places we remained less 
than twenty-four hours. The day came when 
we moored our ship at the wharf in Cape 
Town at the foot of Table Mountain. It 
was delightful to mingle with people who 
could converse with us. Everybody spoke 

Again I had reached the first-class con- 
duct list, and should have obtained liberty 
with my shipmates, had I kept in different 
company. As it was, my friends were men 


who drank whenever they could get liquor, 
and made every effort to obtain it. 

It was now June, in the year 1887. Every 
preparation was made to celebrate the fiftieth 
anniversary of Queen Victoria's reign. Some 
of her Majesty's soldiers visited the Alliance, 
and brought a supply of "Cape Smoke," 
a vile liquor. We indulged freely. That 
night, when I became conscious I found 
myself and four others chained to the stan- 
chions on the berth deck. For this offense 
we were court-martialed, and sentenced to 
thirty days' bread and water, a month's extra 
poHce duty, and the loss of a month's pay. 
But we were thankful to be let off so easily, 
as we were told that under the influence of 
the " Cape Smoke " we had struck the mas- 
ter at arms, and used abusive language to 
the first heutenant. Had all these charges 
been brought against us, we would have been 
kept prisoners till we reached the flagship, 
and then have had sentence of a general 
court-martial. At the expiration of our sen- 
tences we were near the coast of Brazil. 

One clear morning we made the land, and 
steamed through the narrow entrance to the 
harbor of Rio Janeiro, We passed the coni- 

IN THE "BRIG" 275 

cal peaked Sugar Loaf, its extreme apex two 
thousand feet above the earth, and came to 
anchor in the magnificent bay, studded with 
small islands, and as smooth as a lake. Here 
we found the old paddle-wheeled Tallapoosa 
in company with the Lancaster. The three 
ships comprised the whole fleet. 

Because of sickness in Rio the crews 
were not allowed Hberty. While with the 
flagship we were kept busy, not only with 
the admiral's inspection, but every day we 
were exercising at something. We would be 
tuckered out from hauling on the smooth- 
bored guns at big gun drill, when a signal 
from the Lancaster would call away, "All 
boats armed and equipped for distant ser- 
vice," or perhaps, " Make all sail." 

In order that we might land and form the 
three ships' companies into line for battalion 
drill, the fleet got under way and steamed 
outside the harbor to St. Caterina, a quaran- 
tine station. At a given signal from the 
flagship, the crews manned their boats. 
Armed and equipped for heavy marching, 
we rowed for the beach, and landed in the 
surf near the old hospital. 

We only landed twice, for on the third 


morning a yellow flag was run up on our 
fore truck. The signal was made to the 
admiral that we had a case of smallpox on 
board. As soon as this was known, three 
blue jackets and one marine joined " Toger- 
son's religious circle." I must do justice to 
the marine and say he proved to be a strong 
Christian fellow, even though he began his 
new life through fear of death by small- 
pox. We steamed back to Rio, where within 
a week five men were sent to the hospital 
with smallpox. Two of these died. To 
check the spread of the disease, we were 
ordered to proceed to Bahia, and there fumi- 

We had just passed out of the entrance 
to Rio harbor, when Mr. Tyler, the officer 
of the deck, shouted to me in the maintop, 
"Come down from aloft." 

" I can't come down now, sir, I 'm coiling 
the to'gallant yard rope in the top, and if I 
let go it will run back over the top to the 

" Come down, I say." 

" ^y? ay, sir." 

I let go the yard rope. The weight hang- 
ing from the top to the deck hauled the 

IN THE "BRIG" 277 

portion of the yard rope I had coiled into 
the top over the top netting. Snakelike, it 
twisted itseK around Mr. Tyler, who was on 
deck under the maintop, and tumbled him 
over and over. For this I was put on the 
report, and next morning brought before the 
commanding officer. I told my story, and 
claimed that I had obeyed orders. It was of 
no avail. Commander McGregor sentenced 
me to five days' bread and water in the 
"brig." I was pleased when the ship's 
writer told me that for laughing at Mr. 
Tyler when I saw him twisted about in the 
falling coils of the yard rope, I had not been 
lowered on the conduct hst. 

In a few days we steamed into the harbor 
of Bahia, and anchored in front of the city, 
which is beautifully situated, partly on a 
series of hills and partly at their base. 

We were now ordered to spread all our 
clothes and bedding on lines on the berth 
deck. Large iron buckets used for hoisting 
ashes from the fire-room were placed here, 
and in them sulphur was burned, while the 
hatches and ports were kept closely fastened. 
We lived on deck under the awnings during 
these two days we were fumigating, and then 


proceeded to Pernambuco to give liberty to 
the crew. 

In Pernambuco we moored the Alliance 
inside the long reef, which affords excellent 
anchorage for small ships. The large steam- 
ers anchor outside and transfer their cargoes 
by means of lighters. This coral reef is con- 
nected with the city by an old bridge. The 
upper end is joined to the land by a sand- 
pit. All the crew, whether on the first or 
fifth conduct list, were allowed twenty-four 
hours on shore. There is plenty of amuse- 
ment for seamen in this place. The streets 
and sidewalks are wide and clean, and the 
pubHc edifices would be creditable anywhere. 
After every man had enjoyed a run on shore, 
we filled our coal bunkers and steamed back 
to the flagship at Rio. 

Hagan, the captain of the foretop, had 
been ill, and was growing worse every day. 
He was liked by all of us. Anxiously we 
watched by his bedside, and hoped for his 
recovery ; but he failed rapidly, and while in 
Rio passed away. The paymaster negotiated 
with a Rio undertaker to furnish a coffin. 
When it was brought on board, it received all 
attention. It was the greatest curiosity of 

IN THE "BRIG" 279 

the cruise. When Hagan was placed in it, 
it was so shallow that the body lying in it 
was distinctly visible above the sides. The 
lid was shaped hke the roof of a house, made 
of two sloping boards meeting and forming 
a ridge. This cover worked on hinges like 
the hd of a trunk. 

Our departed shipmate had professed the 
Roman Catholic faith; therefore the ser- 
vices of a priest were engaged. Four boats 
filled with men, towed by the steam launch, 
went with the body to the shore near the 
cemetery. We formed into Hue and marched 
to the grave. 

Of all detestable places, none could equal 
this cemetery in filth. The people were 
buried in quicklime, and at the end of two 
years the graves were opened for the use of 
other bodies. We passed rows of opened 
graves. The soil thrown up on the embank- 
ment was fiUed with bones and skulls and 
partly decayed human bodies. We were glad 
when the service was ended. As soon as the 
priest had read the prayers for the dead, and 
sprinkled the strange cof&n with holy water, 
we beat a retreat to the gate, formed into 
line, and marched to the boats. Before we 


left Rio, we raised money enough to purchase 
the grave for forty years, and erected a stone 
to the memory of our beloved shipmate. 

I was glad that in the funeral party I 
was not in the whaleboat. The boat-keeper 
had in some way filled the boat's water- 
breaker with native liquor, and by the time 
we reached the ship several men were put 
below under the sentry's charge. 

Again the fleet was together. The trip 
southward was uneventful. The ocean was 
calm, and we kept well out to sea till we 
sighted Maldonado, and headed up the river 
Rio de la Plata. In a few hours we were at 
anchor in Montevideo Bay. 

For seven months we remained here. The 
harbor had a warlike appearance, as an im- 
posing number of warships of almost every 
nation was anchored near us. For a little 
diversion we would steam outside the river 
and exercise at target practice. A trio of 
doomed barrels were lashed together and cast 
overboard. At a distance of a mile we would 
pour shot and shell with profusion and rapid- 
ity, to resemble an engagement. We indulged 
in these demonstrations once in three months 
till our quarterly allowance of ammunition 

IN THE "BRIG" 281 

was exhausted. The men on the first-class 
list obtained Hberty every other day. We 
became tired of the city, a clean, well-built 
place, of one-story, flat-roofed houses. 

Montevideo has its sailors' district. The 
men from the merchant ships and war vessels 
were welcomed in the numerous dance-halls 
on CaUe St. Theresa, and at the rumshops, 
which were kept by English and American 
broken-down seamen. Occasionally, a bull- 
fight on a Sunday afternoon would create 
a diversion, and at times, while at anchor, a 
hvely pampero would stir up the shipping, 
creating a change in our humdrum existence, 
for a few days at least. 

Once we weighed anchor and steamed 
about a hundred miles up the river to an 
island, where we were exercised in rifle and 
pistol target practice. 

We must have been on the station about 
two years when the Alliance was ordered 
to Rio on special service. The Tallapoosa 
was detailed to survey the entrance of the 
river "Plate." To complete the complement 
of men so that the surveying work could be 
accomphshed, twenty men from the Alliance 
were transferred to her. 


I asked to be sent to the Tallapoosa, be- 
lieving that if I could be away from my old 
associates and among strangers, I might then 
gain a reputation for good behavior. I was 
stationed on the running boat, making several 
trips to shore daily. For two weeks there 
was no report against me, and I was begin- 
ning to flatter myself that I should have a 
splendid report to take to my old ship on her 

One afternoon we had to wait at the wharf 
for the mail orderly. The coxswain of the 
boat allowed one of his crew to purchase a 
bottle of gin from "Dirty Dick's" saloon, near 
the landing. "Dirty Dick " was an American 
who kept open account for any man-of-war's 
man, as he knew he would receive his money 
when we were paid. The bottle of gin was 
quickly emptied and more was purchased. I 
only remember receiving a stunning blow on 
the head while engaged in an all-around rum- 
pus in the boat, and falling over the side into 
the bay. When I came to myself, I, with 
others of the boat's crew, was a prisoner on 
the berth deck. 

The mail orderly told me that in the scuffle 
alongside the wharf I was knocked on the 

IN THE "BRIG" 283 

head with the tiller, and, falHng overboard, 
sunk to the bottom. The crew of a Brazil- 
ian warship's boat came to our assistance, or 
we should all have been drowned. I was 
court-martialed, and sentenced to thirty days' 
double irons, on bread and water, full ration 
every fifth day. This time I lost no pay, but 
felt hungry while in the " brig." When my 
sentence was served, the Tallapoosa was steam- 
ing from one end of the mouth of the river 
to the other, taking soundings. Here I had 
every chance to gain perfection in casting the 
hand lead. All day on deck we were in the 
canvas apron taking soundings, and as our 
reports were to be put on record, we were 
forced to be accurate. 

At the end of three months the ships were 
together again, and we were transferred back 
to the Alliance. I felt mortified and ashamed 
as I mustered on the quarter deck with my 
bag and hammock. My life seemed to amount 
to very Httle. While waiting for the ** first 
luff " to say what part of the ship we were 
to be stationed in. Lieutenant Allan C. Kel- 
ton, U. S. M. C, came on deck from the 
ward-room. Noticing me, he walked over 
and shook hands with me, saying, " King, 


I 'm glad to see you back with us. We have 
missed you." 

This handshake and kind greeting from 
Mr. Kelton did me lots of good. I felt I still 
had the respect of one man, and would do 
my best to behave myself. I kept away from 
several old associates, and although I could 
not join " Togerson's religious band," I stayed 
much in his company and with others like 
him, and during the rest of the cruise I re- 
mained on the good-conduct Kst. 



Our carpenter's mate won the capital prize 
in the Montevideo lottery, and for once this 
old " shell-back " had all the money he wanted. 
In Montevideo the gambling-houses conducted 
their nefarious business openly. The roulette 
table and lottery were in full swing, using 
almost every store and every policeman and 
soldier to aid them in their villainous trade. 
At every corner the boys sold lottery tickets, 
and the bumboat man supplied the ships. 
The first liberty that was given the carpenter, 
he remained on shore eight days, and then 
was brought back by the shore authorities. 
The master at arms coveted the money which 
this man had, and clandestinely sold him 
liquor, charging him an exorbitant price for 
every skin of liquor he obtained. I heard 
of this fraudulent transaction, and watched 
for an opportunity to catch our chief of po- 
lice. One evening I saw the master at arms 


take a skin of liquor from one of the crew of 
the captain's gig. Two other men and my- 
self saw him pass the Hquor to the carpenter's 
mate and receive the money. Pouncing upon 
him, we took the liquor and carried it to the 
officer of the deck, making a report against 
the master at arms. He was tried by a sum- 
mary court-martial, and sentenced to be dis- 
rated to a landsman. 

This was all spite on our part. The mas- 
ter at arms had been hateful to us. While 
he overlooked the petty faults of others, he 
was ever on the alert to find some charge 
against us. No longer chief of police or a 
petty officer, stripped of his brass buttons and 
in the same uniform as myself, we met one 
dark night on the forecastle head, and had 
it not been for the interposition of the new 
master at arms, we would have badly crippled 
each other. As it was, we were both unfit 
for duty for some days. 

At this stage of the cruise we had changed 
our captaincy. Commander George W. Pig- 
man had taken command of our ship. Next 
morning we were brought before him. After 
looking us over he said, " You seem to have 
punished each other enough. I am told it 's 


an old sore between you two men. Don't 
let me hear of any more trouble between you. 
Go forward." The ex-master at arms was 
disgraced. He felt humiliated, and having 
asked for his discharge, it was granted him. 

On account of some disturbance regarding 
a lumber-laden schooner in the Straits of 
Magellan, we were ordered to proceed there 
in the dead of winter. Every mess laid in a 
stock of sea stores. Pea coats were issued to 
those who had none, and away we sailed to the 
southward. Every day it grew colder, and 
continued so till the coast of Patagonia was 
sighted near the entrance to the Straits. We 
entered against a heavy current, passed Eliz- 
abeth Island covered with numerous birds of 
many kinds, mostly penguins and gulls, and 
about a hundred miles from the Atlantic, came 
in sight of Punta Arenas, Sandy Point, as it is 
best known to English people. We dropped 
anchor about a mile from the shore. 

I do not know how the trouble regarding 
the schooner was settled. We remained in 
Sandy Point several days ; we were allowed 
to visit the shore. A town on a beach at the 
foot of a hill, consisting of a fort, a church, 
some old government barracks, and one or 


two public buildings, — tliese, with several 
one-story houses built so as to form streets, 
comprised the whole of Punta Arenas. While 
here, one of the large Pacific mail steamers 
grounded farther up the Straits, and after 
discharging much of her cargo, it took the 
united efforts and steam power of another of 
the company's steamers and our ship to haul 
her from the beach. 

We steamed back to Montevideo, and after 
taking a run up the Plata, calling at Rosario 
and Asuncion and a few minor places, we 
returned to our old anchorage to await the 
arrival of the Kearsarge, which was on her 
way to Montevideo with relief crews for the 
Alliance and Tallapoosa. One afternoon the 
quartermaster reported a warship steaming 
into harbor. Signals were exchanged, and 
the news went over the fleet that the incom- 
ing vessel was the Kearsarge. 

My three years' enlistment had expired. 
Now I rejoiced to know that in a very few 
days I would be homeward bound once more. 
Although there was not a single person whom 
I felt would be glad of my return to the 
United States, no one to greet me there, still 
I felt it good to be returning to an American 
port, which would end my enlistment. 


Our accounts were signed, and "svith bags 
and hammocks we were transferred to the 
Kearsarge. At the command, " All hands 
up anch6r for home," the quartermaster 
hoisted to the breeze our homeward-bound 
pennant, three hundred feet long, with a 
gilded ball at the end, traiHng far astern. 
Amid the cheers of all the men on the war- 
ships in the harbor, and the sweet sound of 
the flagships' bands playing " Home, Sweet 
Home," we bade farewell to the Spanish 
main. No sooner were we clear of land than 
the mooring chains were unbent and stowed 
below. The jackasses were taken from the 
manger, and with hawse pipes plugged, we 
headed for home. 

A few days out we sighted the uninhab- 
ited Brazilian island, Trinidad. Here we 
had a splendid opportunity to try our hands 
at big gun target practice. We opened fire 
on the hills, and ploughed the soil with our 
shot and shell. 

We crossed the equator, and in another 
week were in sight of land. As we drew 
near this island, we passed many flying-fish 
boats with masts unstepped. The negro fish- 
ermen were catching fish. We could see the 


windmills on shore, and everything seemed 
to resemble Barbados. Meeting the first 
lieutenant, I dared to question him. 
"Is that Barbados, Mr. Belknap?" 
" Yes, King, it is." 
" Are we going to stop there ? " 
" Yes, only for a few days, to coal up." 
During my three years' cruise, my ship- 
mates had looked forward with keen pleasure 
to the arrival of the mail, to hear from their 
friends at home. I had not received a word 
from any one. In places where I had seen 
good women on the street, the thought of 
my mother had come to me, but I dashed it 
away and thought of other things. As 
we anchored in Carlisle Bay, I did not then 
allow myself to think she was gone forever. 
With a longing to see my father and sisters, 
and to be in the old home once more, I ap- 
proached the of&cer of the deck and asked 
for liberty. Commander AUan D. Brown 
granted me forty-eight hours on shore, and 
told the paymaster to give me ten dollars. 

On reaching the wharf I engaged a car- 
riage, and told the driver to hasten to 
Payne's Bay. We passed the old school- 
house, and the chapel with its small burying- 


ground. At last the old home hove in sight. 
Instead of the wide-open shutters and the 
evidence of human hfe, blinds and doors 
were shut, and no sign of human beings 
was there. We drove up the gap. I sprang 
from the carriage, my heart breaking in its 
loneliness, and wrenching the front door 
open, I passed through the vacant front 
rooms and entered my mother's bedroom. 
Of all places, this was the most desolate to 
me. Here in this room I had knelt with my 
brothers and sisters at the foot of her bed 
every morning, and repeating with her our 
daily prayer, we gave thanks to God. 

Now, not a piece of furniture remained ; 
not a soul to welcome me home. In my 
grief I cried, "Mother, mother, where are 
you ? " I think I hear the echo mocking 
me as it sounded, " Where are you ? " 

The natives heard that I had returned, and 
as I reached the front door, intending to 
make inquiries as to the whereabouts of my 
father, one of our old negro servants threw 
her arms about my neck, and sobbing with 
me, cried, — 

" Massa Harry, you' mammy is dead." 

"I know it, Sarah; where is papa?" 


" He 's at Carrington's house on the hill." 

Afflicted with blindness in his old age, my 
father had been turned from his home, while 
it and all he owned were sold to the highest 
bidder. Renting a small house not far from 
the old home, his youngest daughter in Bar- 
bados was doing her best to make his pension 
provide food and shelter for him. I spent 
my forty-eight hours in his company, and 
when I left him, it was a sad farewell. We 
both believed it was the last time we would 
meet on earth. It was so, for he has since 
passed beyond all trouble and care. 

I reported on board the Kearsarge, and in 
about ten days we were at Hampton Roads 
awaiting orders from Washington. Word 
came for us to proceed to New York and 
there discharge the crew. There were men 
who had never been in the " brig." In fact, 
they had been considered good-conduct men 
the whole of the cruise. I was astonished 
when I saw them given small discharges. 
My question was, " What will my discharge 

When Mr. Belknap handed me my parch- 
ment, he said, " King, if it was in my power 
to change your discharge, I would do it. I 


don't understand how you were recommended 
for a continuous service certificate by the 
executive oiiicer of the Alliance, but here it 
is. Take it." Sure enough, my discharge 
was written on the face, "Entitled to an 
honorable discharge." 

I looked it over carefully. Was it possible 
that after three court-martials and the sen- 
tences I had served in the " brig," I could 
be so honorably discharged? On reading 
the conduct record I was pleased to see : — 

"Seamanship, excellent. Gunnery, very 
good. Industry, excellent. Obedience, good. 
Cleanliness, very good. Average standing 
for term of enhstment, very good." 

Yes, I had always kept neat and clean, 
was implicitly obedient when in my sober 
mind, active and quick in movement. I gave 
satisfaction at my stations both aloft and on 
deck, and manifested an interest in every 
drill and exercise. Although the mark for 
obedience was only three, the other qualifi- 
cations entitled me to twenty out of a pos- 
sible twenty-five. 

No longer an enhsted man, I purchased a 
suit of clothes. With some of my shipmates 
I squandered my money in New York, and 


•within three weeks appeared on the deck o£ 
the old Vermont ready to enlist again. I 
passed the doctor's examination, and was 
considered sound in body, but when the 
apothecary emptied a small cardboard box 
of wool on the table for me to put the differ- 
ent colors in heaps by themselves, my hopes 
were blasted. Although I knew it was im- 
possible for me to do it, I made the attempt. 
My effort was a fearful mixture of colors. 
The doctor declared me color-blind, and 
rejected me. 

There was one chance left. My discharge 
had not been tampered with, so before word 
of my rejection could be sent to Washing- 
ton, I borrowed a few dollars of an old 
shipmate and started for Boston. I had 
hopes of " bluf&ng " the old apothecary on 
the Wabash again. Here I encountered the 
same difficulty. The box of wool was passed 
me to separate the skeins and place all of 
one color in heaps by themselves. The red, 
green, and brown were more than mixed, 
though I did my best, so for the second time 
I was rejected. 

What was I to do? I had wasted my 
earnings, and had not a cent of my own. 



The only thing was to find a sailing-ship, 
and continue my days on a " wind-jammer." 
Reaching the spar deck, I met Mr. Farnholt, 
the executive officer of the Wabash, who 
said, " King, I have a vacancy for a lands- 
man in the ship's company. Will you take 
that ? " " Yes, sir," I quickly repHed, glad 
indeed to take any rate, even though it was 
at the bottom round of the ladder. ^' Very 
well, stay on board till I get permission from 
Washington to waive your color-blindness." 
In a few days a favorable answer was re- 
ceived, and as a landsman I was enrolled on 
the Wabash, a special service man on that 
ship for the period of one year. I thereby 
lost the three months' pay to which my 
honorable discharge entitled me, had I again 
enHsted for general service. 

I held my rate as landsman for six weeks, 
at which time the captain of the forecastle 
was discharged, and I was given his rate. 
The year passed quickly, and I enHsted for 
another year, and was shortly after rated 
quarter gunner. My duties consisted of car- 
ing for the arms and ammunition, drilling 
the recruits, and training them in the differ- 
ent exercises for sea service. 


Although I was not reported at any time, 
I deserved to be, for with others I yielded to 
the temptation of supplying the "moneyed 
big discharge men," the " old-timers," with 
liquor. We ran great risks to smuggle it on 
board that we might have money to squander 
in the dives outside the Navy Yard gate and 
in the North End of Boston. 

In the summer of 1890, I had just passed 
my twenty-third birthday. Although so 
young, I had lived many years of reckless- 
ness and wrong-doing. My associates were 
of the worst kind. I did not care for any- 
thing different. Perfectly satisfied, I lived 
only for the day. Of the future and what it 
had in store for me, I cared nothing. I ex- 
pected the only termination of a man-of-war's 
man's life : a pension in old age. I had no 
plans or ambitions, — a mere animal ; worse 
off than some animals, for they at least had 
some one who bestowed affection on them. 
Still I was not unhappy. Only when my 
mother's face came to my mind and I allowed 
myself to think of her, did a trace of good 
thought or a longing for something better 
enter my life. 

At this stage of my experience, a large 


company of young women came on board 
the Wabash. It was Sunday afternoon. 
Old Bob Wilkes was on liberty, and I was 
acting boatswain's mate in his place. In a 
little while the officer of the deck shouted, 
" Bo's'n's mate, pass the word. Any men 
who wish to attend a temperance meeting 
lay aft on the gun deck. The rest of the 
men keep silence around the decks." These 
good women were members of the Charles- 
town Young Women's Christian Temperance 
Union, and had asked permission to hold a 
meeting, thinking they might be of help to 
some of the men. I kept away from their 
company. The very sight of these women 
brought thoughts of my mother and my sis- 
ters. Home and fond recollections fiUed my 
mind. To banish such thoughts, I became 
enraged, and as I blew my whistle and passed 
the word the officer of the deck had given me, 
I whistled again and shouted, " Get for'ard, 
everybody, and fill the scuttle butt." It did 
not require all the men to do this work. 
Some went aft to the meeting, but I kept 
many of them jerking on the fresh-water 
pump handle, and did my best to forget the 
gathering aft. 


Standing forward on the gun deck by the 
scuttle butt watching that it did not over- 
flow, I could see the gathering of people aft. 
Presently a sound, the sweetest of my life, 
reached my ears. Two young women were 
singing a hymn, " The Gospel Bells are Ring- 
ing." As I hstened, my mind traveled back 
to my boyhood days, when Sankey's hymns 
had just been introduced into Barbados. I 
thought of the days when, with my young 
brother and sisters, we sang that very hymn 
at my father's side. I no longer desired to 
fight against the inrushing thoughts of home 
and loved ones, but allowed every remem- 
brance of my mother's face and life to enter 
my being. At any other time I should have 
dreaded the ridicule of my shipmates, and 
given these Christian people a wide berth. 

Shouting to the men below, " That '11 do 
the pump," I walked aft and seated myself 
on a bench in front of the singers. " Safe 
in the Arms of Jesus," they sang, and then, 
"The Sweet By and By." I sobbed as 
though my heart would break. I was a boy 
again in the presence of my mother, and 
seemed to be telling her of my wasted life. 
It was as though her voice talked to me and 


reasoned with me. I decided then and there 
to sever myself from every evil association, 
and to be what she would have me. 

Now I have finished these experiences of 
my Bohemian life. I have confined myself 
to incidents on board ship, and to a few hap- 
penings on shore, as a sailor. The tempta- 
tion to tell of other places and people has 
been strong, but I have refrained. My hard- 
est task has been to discriminate between 
things worth relating and those that are not, 
but I feel, as far as my memory permits, 
I have set forth the truth. If no good is 
done, or no pleasure derived from reading 
the vicissitudes of a youthful sailor, cast the 
book away and say, — 

At its best, it is only what most sailors 
would call a poor, hard-traveling purchase, 
" A rope yarn over a nail." 

Electrotyped and printed by H. O. Houghton &= Co. 
Cambridge, Mass., U.S. A. 

^ ^ y> i\ 

L I S 

T O F 


F I C T I 

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"MBJKm cto ^Q<^•t 


MARIS 1901 


019 314 103 1